Crime: Suspected gunman's motive in Iowa park killings a mystery

Four Dead After Shooting at Iowa State Park

  Four Dead After Shooting at Iowa State Park The police found the alleged shooter dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers eventually were able to locate his body west of the park.The Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a statement that the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) were alerted about a triple killing at the park.

CORRECTS DATE TO JULY 22 NOT JULY 2 In this photo provided by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Anthony Orlando Sherwin is shown. Three people were killed in a shooting at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground in eastern Iowa Friday, July 22, 2022 and the suspected gunman is also dead, police said.  Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation,  said officers searching the campground found the body of a Nebraska man who had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities identified him as 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin.(Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP) © Provided by Associated Press CORRECTS DATE TO JULY 22 NOT JULY 2 In this photo provided by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Anthony Orlando Sherwin is shown. Three people were killed in a shooting at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground in eastern Iowa Friday, July 22, 2022 and the suspected gunman is also dead, police said. Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said officers searching the campground found the body of a Nebraska man who had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities identified him as 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin.(Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP)

The question at the center of an investigation into the killings of three family members — including a 6-year-old girl — at an eastern Iowa state park campground is: Why?

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It’s a question that, so far, investigators haven’t been able to answer as they look for any connection between the family and the suspected shooter. They have uncovered little to establish a motive, noting they have not turned up any connection between Anthony Sherwin and those investors say he killed.

In this 2022 provided by the Schmidt and Morehead families, Tyler Schmidt, left, and his wife Sarah pose with their son Arlo and daughter Lula, right, while hiking near Cedar Falls, Iowa. Police said Saturday, July 23, 2022, the Iowa couple and their 6-year-old daughter were fatally shot while camping in a state park by a man from Nebraska who later turned the gun on himself. The couple's 9-year-old son survived.  (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Morehead families) © Provided by Associated Press In this 2022 provided by the Schmidt and Morehead families, Tyler Schmidt, left, and his wife Sarah pose with their son Arlo and daughter Lula, right, while hiking near Cedar Falls, Iowa. Police said Saturday, July 23, 2022, the Iowa couple and their 6-year-old daughter were fatally shot while camping in a state park by a man from Nebraska who later turned the gun on himself. The couple's 9-year-old son survived. (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Morehead families)

What police have said is that Sherwin, 23, of the Omaha suburb of La Vista, had no criminal history prior to the attack, and investigators said he appeared to target the victims at random. The man’s parents, who had been camping with their son, expressed incomprehension that he would carry out such an attack.

Iowa couple and their 6-year-old daughter fatally shot in their tent at state park

  Iowa couple and their 6-year-old daughter fatally shot in their tent at state park Police say an Iowa couple and their 6-year-old daughter were fatally shot in their tent in a park, apparently by Nebraska man who then killed himself.The Cedar Falls couple leaves behind a 9-year-old son, according to the city's mayor. It was not immediately clear Saturday if the boy was with his family at the time of the attack at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground.

The shooting happened early Friday morning, when the victims from Cedar Falls, Iowa, were found shot to death in their tent at the Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground, about 180 miles east of Des Moines. Police have said Tyler Schmidt, 42; his 42-year-old wife, Sarah Schmidt; and their 6-year-old daughter, Lula Schmidt, all died in the attack.

In this undated provided by the Schmidt and Morehead families, Tyler Schmidt and his wife Sarah pose with their son Arlo, bottom left, and daughter Lula during a family outing. Police said Saturday, July 23, 2022, the Iowa couple and their 6-year-old daughter were fatally shot while camping in a state park by a man from Nebraska who later turned the gun on himself. The couple's 9-year-old son survived.  (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Morehead families) © Provided by Associated Press In this undated provided by the Schmidt and Morehead families, Tyler Schmidt and his wife Sarah pose with their son Arlo, bottom left, and daughter Lula during a family outing. Police said Saturday, July 23, 2022, the Iowa couple and their 6-year-old daughter were fatally shot while camping in a state park by a man from Nebraska who later turned the gun on himself. The couple's 9-year-old son survived. (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Morehead families)

The couple’s 9-year-old son, Arlo, survived the attack without physical injury, but police have not said whether he was in the tent when the shootings happened. Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said Monday that investigators have spoken to the boy, but declined to reveal what the child said.

Boy, 9, 'survived' Iowa park shooting that killed parents and sister, officials say

  Boy, 9, 'survived' Iowa park shooting that killed parents and sister, officials say One 9-year-old boy survived the shooting that left his parents and sister dead at Maquoketa Caves State Park campground on Friday, July 22.Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) said in a statement that they and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office “were notified of a triple homicide at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground,” at 6:23 a.m. on July 22, according to NBC News.

“At this time, there’s been nothing discovered as far as anything that precipitated the attack” at the campground, Mortvedt said.

Sherwin's parents had suggested that he might have heard the shots and grabbed a firearm in the family’s vehicle for self-protection, but Mortvedt discounted that theory.

"Without getting into the fine details of it, with everything that we have learned, we are confident that everything we have reported is how it played out and that he is responsible,” Mortvedt said.

Autopsies on the Schmidts and Sherwin began Sunday and were continuing on Monday, Mortvedt said.

The La Vista Police Department in Nebraska released records Monday showing that it had only one prior contact with Sherwin, when he walked into a police station in July 2017 to report someone had tried to use his insurance to get dental work done in Oklahoma. Sherwin later called police to inform them his insurance company had mistakenly sent him someone else's bill.

Emergency personnel block an entrance to the Maquoketa Caves State Park as police investigate a shooting, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Maquoketa, Iowa. Police responded to reports of the shooting at the park's campground before 6:30 a.m., Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said in a statement. ( (Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Emergency personnel block an entrance to the Maquoketa Caves State Park as police investigate a shooting, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Maquoketa, Iowa. Police responded to reports of the shooting at the park's campground before 6:30 a.m., Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said in a statement. ( (Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP)

Sherwin's mother, Cecilia Sherwin, in a statement emailed to The Associated Press described her son as kind, sensitive, an exceptional student and an aspiring businessman.

Couple, 6-year-old daughter shot, killed in tent while camping in Iowa state park; suspected gunman found dead

  Couple, 6-year-old daughter shot, killed in tent while camping in Iowa state park; suspected gunman found dead A couple and their 6-year-old daughter were shot and killed in a tent while camping at Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa. A suspect was found dead.The couple and their daughter — identified as Tyler Schmidt, 42, Sarah Schmidt, 42, and Lula Schmidt, 6 — were found dead Friday morning in a tent in Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground. Their son, 9-year-old Arlo, survived the attack, Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green said Saturday.

Authorities enter a mobile command center at the entrance to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Maquoketa, Iowa. Police responded to reports of the shooting at the park's campground before 6:30 a.m., Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said in a statement. (Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Authorities enter a mobile command center at the entrance to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Maquoketa, Iowa. Police responded to reports of the shooting at the park's campground before 6:30 a.m., Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said in a statement. (Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP)

“We just arrived home and are trying to absorb the loss of our son and arriving home without him which is unfathomable,” she said. “I didn’t think we had any tears left, but we still find ourselves breaking down and care deeply for the little boy and the loss of his family.”

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AP reporter Michael Tarm, based in Chicago, contributed to this report.

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