Two adults in their 40s and a six-year-old child, Cedar Falls residents, were fatally shot at the popular Maquoketa Caves State Park eastern Iowa campground, Friday. The man suspected in their deaths, a 23-year-old Nebraska resident, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, some distance from the camp site. Law enforcement used a plane to aid in their search for him.He was identified as Anthony Orlando Sherwin. A potential motive has not been released. It wasn’t immediately clear if Sherwin knew the victims or was related to them. A search of online court records in Nebraska and Iowa did not produce any record of prior criminal behavior.Investigators continued to gather evidence. “I’m horrified by the shooting this morning at Maquoketa Caves State Park and devastated by the loss of three innocent lives,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement.
“This was a horrifying and senseless act of violence. As we wait to learn more, I join all Iowans in praying for those who lost their lives and our community. My team will continue to be in contact with local officials and I am grateful for our law enforcement officers who are working to keep us safe,” U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson tweeted. The campground was evacuated in the wake of the shooting. Armed DNR conservation officers monitored the eastern entrance to the park, which was blocked off Friday afternoon. It will remain closed through at least July 28. Camp Shalom, a Christian camp for young people, is about a mile and a half from the park and campers frequently take trips to the caves throughout the week. The kids was evacuated. Maquoketa Caves State Park, located about 10 miles northwest of Maquoketa in Jackson County, known for its 1,100-foot long Dancehall Cave, has long been considered one of Iowa’s gems for its accessibility and 13 caves.