Two adults and a child were fatally shot at an Iowa campsite on Friday, and the man suspected of their deaths was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) “were notified of a triple homicide at Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground” at 6:23 a.m., according to a DCI press release.
“Officers later discovered a camper was missing,” said Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, according to the state agency.
“Sherwin appears to have sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and there is no danger to the public.”
It was not immediately clear whether Sherwin, a Nebraska resident, knew the victims or was related to them, said Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa DCI.
“We had information that he was armed at the time,” Krapfl told reporters when law enforcement began looking for him.
“He was (found) near the campground a short distance away.”
The victims were identified later Friday as Tyler Schmidt, 42, Sarah Schmidt, also 42, and Lulu Schmidt, 6, all of Cedar Falls.
Sherwin was called the suspect in a statement. Autopsy results for all four were pending.
Maquoketa Caves State Park is in far eastern Iowa, halfway between Des Moines and Chicago. It remained closed through Friday afternoon as investigators continued to gather evidence.
“I am horrified by the shooting this morning at Maquoketa Caves National Park and devastated by the loss of three innocent lives,” Governor Kim Reynolds said in a statementon his own behalf and on behalf of First Gentleman Kevin Reynolds.
“As we mourn this unimaginable tragedy, Kevin and I pray for the family members of the victims and law enforcement who responded to the scene.”
Staff members caring for 90 children at Camp Shalmon were about a mile away from the incident and went into active shooter mode Friday morning, executive assistant Beth Sallak said.
The campers, who were completing a Sunday-Friday stay, were evacuated to nearby Little Bear Park and largely kept in the dark about the reason for the evacuation, Sallak added.
“They didn’t know why,” Sallak told NBC News. “We kept them unconscious. We just wanted them to stay calm and happy.”