'Celebration of Life' event planned for Schmidt family, victims in Maquoketa Caves shooting
The Cedar Falls community will be hosting a memorial event to honor three members of the Schmidt family who died in a triple homicide at Maquoketa Caves State Park earlier this month.
Tyler Schmidt, Sara Schmidt, both 42, and their daughter Lula, 6, were killed while camping at the state park on July 22. The 'Celebration of Life' event will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Overman Park, according to Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green.
Green said the park will be reserved for neighbors to get together before the event. Following the event, the public is welcome to stay for a free municipal ensemble performance, according to Green.
"While not a festive event, this truly is a celebration of these remarkable people," Green wrote on Facebook. "I think Tyler and Sarah would love to see us all together as neighbors."
The Schmidts' 9-year-old son, Arlo, survived the shooting. A GoFundMe to support him has raised more than $240,000 as of Wednesday.
Green wrote that the celebration of life will feature stories about the Schmidt family. He said it will be livestreamed for family and friends to watch "so that they can see how much the Schmidt family was loved by all."
Funeral services will most likely be kept private at the family's request, Green said.
Maquoketa Caves State Park reopening; campground remains closed
Meanwhile, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced on Wednesday that the park, which had been closed since the shooting, will reopen to visitors at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The campground, where the Schmidts were found dead in a tent, will remain closed until further notice, DNR said.
A temporary memorial site has been set up at the Maquoketa Caves State Park entrance sign near the Visitor Center to honor the Schmidt family, according to DNR.
Authorities believe Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23 of La Vista, Nebraska, killed the Schmidt family. Sherwin was found dead in the park in a wooded area some distance from the Schmidts' tent. Officials have said he died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Iowa officials have not released any motive for the shooting. Neither law enforcement, the victims family members nor Sherwins' parents have indicated the victims and Sherwin had any prior interaction.
Grace Altenhofen is a news reporter for the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gracealtenhofen.