Three people were killed in an early-morning shooting at Maquoketa Caves State Park’s campground, and the alleged gunman later took his own life a short distance away, officials said Friday morning.
Mike Krapfl, special agent in charge of major crimes with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was called to the park’s campground at 6:23 a.m., and found three people dead of gunshot wounds.
“As officers searched, they found one camper that was unaccounted for,” Krapfl said during a Friday morning news conference.
That prompted a lockdown of the park at 8 a.m. Friday, according to a park employee who spoke with the Quad-City Times.
A teacher associate with the city’s school district who lives nearby, Sarah Keeney, posted to Facebook that deputies warned neighbors to keep their doors locked and to be on the lookout for a “gunman dressed in all black.”
Krapfl said the body of Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, of Nebraska, was found hours later a short distance west of the campground, apparently dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
No information about the victims or their relationship to Sherwin was known at this time, Krapfl said.
An Anthony Sherwin who lives in La Vista, Neb., shows up in online searches, but no one by that name has a criminal record in either Nebraska or Iowa, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
There was no longer a threat to the public, but the entire park would remain closed while the investigation continues, Krapfl said.
Camp Shalom, a summer camp being held nearby, was also evacuated Friday in response to the shooting.
“All campers and staff are safe and accounted for in town at Little Bear Park,” the camp posted to its Facebook page on Friday morning. According to the Times, the camp notified parents that there was “an active shooter at Maquoketa Caves” and staff were “following the protocols.”
In a statement Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she was “horrified by the shooting” and “devastated by the loss of three innocent lives.”
“As we grieve this unimaginable tragedy, (husband) Kevin and I pray for the victims’ family members and the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene,” she added. “We ask Iowans to do the same.”
Deidre DeJear, who is running for governor against Reynolds, called it “senseless gun violence.”
“To the families and loved ones … I am grieving with you, and so sorry you’re experiencing this unnecessary tragedy,” DeJear said.
To the families and loved ones impacted by today’s senseless gun violence, I am grieving with you and so sorry you’re experiencing this unnecessary tragedy. https://t.co/97GjkDsNRl
— Deidre DeJear (@DeidreDeJear) July 22, 2022
Some in Iowa’s congressional delegation had also weighed in as of Friday afternoon.
Sen. Joni Ernst said she was “heartbroken” and “praying for the victims and their families.”
I am heartbroken to hear of the tragedy in Maquoketa Caves State Park and am praying for the victims and their families. My staff and I are following the situation. Thankful for all of the responding law enforcement.
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) July 22, 2022
Sen. Chuck Grassley also said he was “praying for the lives lost and for their loved ones,” adding, “Violence can’t be tolerated. Killing innocent (people) is sickening.”
I’m closely monitoring situation in Maquoketa Caves State Park. Praying for the lives lost & their loved ones Im grateful for Iowa law enforcement who responded +camp staff for ensuring safety of other campers Violence can’t be tolerated Killing innocent ppl is sickening
— Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley) July 22, 2022
Grassley’s opponent this November, Mike Franken, said what was needed as a response was not Republican talking points of “arming teachers, more guns, more police, more citizen carry.”
“Responsible firearm ownership,” Franken said. “Get your politician to say those words. Then ask how they intend to do it.”
Responsible firearm ownership…get your politician to say those words…then ask how they intend to do it. If they bring up arming teachers, more guns, more police, more citizen carry…then they are on the other side.
Maquoketa Caves State Park.
— Admiral Mike Franken (@FrankenforIowa) July 22, 2022
Rep. Ashley Hinson called the massacre a “horrifying and senseless act of violence.”
“I join all Iowans in praying for those who lost their lives and our community,” she said.
My statement on the shooting at Maquoketa Caves State Park: pic.twitter.com/2aFN8skonV
— Ashley Hinson (@RepAshleyHinson) July 22, 2022
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks also noted she was “praying for the families and victims of today’s tragedy.”
Praying for the families and victims of today's tragedy at Maquoketa Caves State Park and the law enforcement officers who arrived at the scene.
— Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D. (@RepMMM) July 22, 2022
Auditor Rob Sand said the shooting was “just awful,” while former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer called it “horrifying yet again.”
“Now, once again, a place of fun, safety, recreation (is) terrorized by gun violence in the United States of America in 2022,” she said.
Horrifying yet again. We’d go on elementary school field trips to these caves and now once again, a place of fun, safety, recreation terrorized by gun violence in the United States of America in 2022. There’s no freedom in this folks… again, just terror. https://t.co/LBQ4Fkr3xG
— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) July 22, 2022
Progress Iowa’s Matt Sinovic called out Reynolds in particular for “offering empty words and prayers instead of action and policy change,” nothing other recent shootings outside Des Moines East High School and an Ames church.
“It’s time to pass common-sense gun safety laws to prevent further tragedy,” Sinovic said. “What will it take for Governor Reynolds to take some meaningful action?”
A previous version of this article incorrectly noted Camp Shalom was within Maquoketa Caves State Park. It is nearby.
By Amie Rivers
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