Family, friends mourn Schmidt killed at Muquoketa Keys State Park.

In this 2022 photo, Tyler Schmidt, left, and his wife, Sarah Schmidt, pose with their son, Arlo, and daughter, Lola, while hiking near Cedar Falls, Iowa. A Cedar Falls couple and their daughter, Lola, 6, were shot and killed Friday while camping at a state park, reportedly by a Nebraska man who later turned the gun on himself. Arlo Schmidt, 9, survived. (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Moorhead families)

As word spread that Tyler and Sarah Schmidt and their 6-year-old daughter Lola were shot and killed Friday during a camping trip at Maquoketa Caves State Park, family, friends, co-workers and neighbors in Cedar Falls turned on Line expressed his grief. .

“Today, my life is shattered,” Jana Morehouse, who identified herself as Sarah’s sister, wrote. Facebook.

“I can’t believe she won’t be on the other end of the phone anymore,” Jana Morehouse wrote. “I can’t understand that I can’t see Lola grow up.”

According to law enforcement officials, the Schmidts’ bodies were found Friday morning in a state park tent. He was shot.

Some distance away, but still in the park, law enforcement said they found the body of 23-year-old Anthony Orlando Sharon, who had apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. They said Sharon is believed to be the person who shot and killed Schmitts.

More: A Maquoketa Caves State Park camper heard a scream and a loud bang near the site of the triple murder

“We have no knowledge of the person who committed this act,” said Sarah Schmidt’s younger brother, Adam Morehouse. Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. “We don’t know who it was. We never met the person. And it was 100% random.”

Department of Public Safety Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation Mitch Mortidet also said Saturday that the investigation has not revealed an initial interaction between the family and Sharon.

Schmidt’s son, Arlo, 9, survived the shooting and is safe, according to Cedar Falls Mayor Bob Green.

More: A 9-year-old boy survived an attack that killed his family while camping in Maquoketa Caves.

“Like many of you just hearing the news, I am devastated,” Green wrote on Facebook. “I knew Sarah well, and she and her family used to take regular walks here in the Sartori Park neighborhood.”

Neither law enforcement nor Green said where Arlo Schmidt was at the time of the shooting.

“My nephew is strong and our focus is on him over the next few days,” Jana Morehouse wrote in one Separate Facebook post.

Kelly Voss, a friend of Sarah Schmidt’s, said Saturday that Arlo is “a sweet, resilient little boy, and I hope he knows how many people love him.”

Oh gofundme page For Arlo, organized by Beth Shapiro, who identified herself as Sarah Schmidt’s cousin, said, “Arlo is a strong boy, surrounded by family and friends who support him as much as possible. have been.” As of Sunday morning, the page had more than $100,000 in donations.

“They were an amazing family, each other’s highs, each other’s shortfalls and none of them questioned that they were in love, they all knew it. Arlo was probably the smartest kid in his grade, If not school and I’m praying he can get through it because he’s destined for really great things,” said family friend Kate Fleder.

In This Undated Photo, Tyler Schmidt And His Wife, Sarah Schmidt, Pose With Their Son, Arlo, And Daughter, Lola, During A Family Outing.  An Iowa Couple And Their Daughter, 6, Were Shot And Killed While Camping At A State Park, Allegedly By A Nebraska Man Who Later Turned The Gun On Himself.  Arlo Schmidt, 9, Survived.  (Courtesy Of The Schmidt And Moorhead Families)In This Undated Photo, Tyler Schmidt And His Wife, Sarah Schmidt, Pose With Their Son, Arlo, And Daughter, Lola, During A Family Outing.  An Iowa Couple And Their Daughter, 6, Were Shot And Killed While Camping At A State Park, Allegedly By A Nebraska Man Who Later Turned The Gun On Himself.  Arlo Schmidt, 9, Survived.  (Courtesy Of The Schmidt And Moorhead Families)

In this undated photo, Tyler Schmidt and his wife, Sarah Schmidt, pose with their son, Arlo, and daughter, Lola, during a family outing. An Iowa couple and their daughter, 6, were shot and killed while camping at a state park, allegedly by a Nebraska man who later turned the gun on himself. Arlo Schmidt, 9, survived. (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Moorhead families)

‘I can’t believe this is happening’

With an outpouring of grief and many questions, those who knew Schmidt said he was simply in shock.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Voss said.

“I just talked to him and we are going to schedule another play date soon,” Voss wrote in a Facebook post. “We were both very excited to get ‘Lou’ together because both of our daughters share a nickname.”

Another friend of Sarah’s, Katie Thurman, wrote on Facebook, “This family was amazing and some of the nicest people you will ever meet.”

“You always think these things won’t happen to people you know, but they do,” wrote Kevin Hein on Facebook, who said he is friends with both Sarah and Tyler. “They were fantastic people and it’s absolutely terrifying.”

Voss said she met Sarah through a moms club in Cedar Falls, and they quickly became friends.

“Sarah was an amazing person,” Voss said, “she had the ability to make you feel at ease around her.”

Voss described Sarah as a loving and kind friend, with a deep interest in science and a love of nature and conservation.

“The outdoors was always important to his family,” Voss said.

“It’s terrible to think that someone who was just trying to spend time with his family enjoying nature ended up in an unspeakable tragedy,” he said.

Committed to Family, Cedar Falls

Voss described the Schmidts as a very close-knit family and said they made extra trips across the country to stay connected with their extended family. He shared the same commitment to his community in Cedar Falls.

Both adults and children in Cedar Falls look up to Sarah, who developed strong ties to the community through her work at the Cedar Falls Public Library, Voss said. While there, Voss said, Sarah would share her love of learning with everyone who walked through her door.

The Cedar Falls Public Library closed Saturday after news of the deaths. A post on the library’s Facebook page. Since the announcement, Voss said, community members have decorated posters outside the library to pay tribute to Sarah’s memory.

“Just her love of reading, and her love of learning and exploring and wanting her kids to be curious,” Voss said, “is something that people will remember.”

Sarah’s compassion and love for nature was echoed by others who took to social media to grieve.

Sarah’s sister, Morehouse, wrote, “Please cherish any time you have.” Facebook. “Go out today. Breathe. That’s what Sarah would want.”

Voss Setup a Food train Sarah’s brother, Spencer, and sister-in-law, Judy, to help with meals and groceries as they host out-of-town family members and prepare for the funeral.

“Sarah and Tyler and Arlo and Lola were the Midwestern family we all wanted to be,” said Adam Morehouse, Sarah Schmidt’s brother. told the Courier.

‘We refuse to believe the news.’ The father of the suspected shooter says there was no indication of anything wrong

Joseph Sharon, the father of shooting suspect Anthony Sharon, told the Des Moines Register that he and his son were camping at Maquoketa Caves State Park on Friday.

Joseph Sharon said he woke up to gunshots and someone screaming.

The father said, “I saw a young boy running from the area for help. I told him to run in my direction and I would help him. I asked him what happened and he said That a black man shot his family.” In an email on Saturday. He said that his son was not wearing black.

He said his family was “legally traveling with the gun but it was in a secure container under the back seat.” She said in the email that her son, who law enforcement said had an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, may have grabbed his gun for protection. .

“We refuse to believe this news. We are deeply saddened because he had so much to live for and he gave us no indication that anything was wrong. We appreciate your respecting our privacy at this time. Appreciate it,” said Joseph Sharon. He did not respond to follow-up questions from the Register.

Nebraska officials said and public records show Sharon is from La Vista, Nebraska. La Vista Police Chief Bob Laston told the Register that Sharon lived in an apartment complex with his parents and had no history of criminal behavior.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on the Des Moines Register: Maquoketa Park shooting victims remembered as ‘amazing family’