A NINE-year-old boy is showing "courage" after being orphaned when his mom, father and six-year-old sister were all killed by a gunman in a "random attack" at a campsite, his uncle revealed.
Tyler and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, were found dead in their tent at Maquoketa Caves State Park Campground in Iowa along with their daughter, Lula, after being killed by Anthony Sherwin, cops say.
Their son, Arlo, survived the horrific attack.
Sherwin was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just west of campgrounds the state park.
“Arlo was incredible and courageous throughout all of this and the families can't say thank first responders enough for all the care and attention that was given in this devastating tragedy,” Adam Morehouse, Sarah’s brother, told The Sun.
“He's a very strong, healthy kid who was absolutely incredible and he definitely has a stronger mind than the average nine-year-old in everything he does, but it's important to know that he's going to have so many years of healing ahead of him, and so it's important to give him as much love and support as possible right now.”
Felicia Coe, 35, of Des Moines, told ABC News she saw Arlo standing near paramedics.
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“He was in his pajamas.
“I distinctly remember he had one blue tennis shoe,” she said.
“He’s got this really cute, floppy-curly, moppy, strawberry-blond hair that’s really distinguishable,” Coe said.
“He was in these super cute little pajamas, like a cotton T-shirt and shorts that matched. … He was just standing there."
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He wasn’t crying. He wasn’t distraught.”
"But he also wasn’t being comforted. He was just standing there by himself.”
A GoFundMe for Arlo has raised around $165,000.
Sherwin had no connection to the family, Morehouse confirmed.
“Nobody in our families had ever met the individual or the individual's families,” Morehouse said.
“No interactions had occurred as far as we know and it was just an individual who decided that morning to pick a tent and walk in and have this devastating tragedy occur that affects multiple people and families, all over the Midwest, and unfortunately, that tent belonged to my sister and her beautiful family."
Morehouse also said that Sarah rarely got time off from her job at a local library, as she was developing programs.
She told Morehouse’s wife a few weeks back she was able to get off the one day to take the kids camping, and so they headed to the site Thursday night.
“They were a very bubbly, smart, fun family, who loved the outdoors and got out as much as they could to go hiking.”
“They took up camping about a year ago with the kids to see if the kids would enjoy it and they absolutely loved it the first time they went, and they've been staying active ever since,” Morehouse said.
No one in the family received any text messages from them or talked with them at all.
Sarah was the eldest of four children, siblings in the Dakotas, Texas, and Michigan areas.
Sarah last contracted them in a family text thread the day before they went camping, to comment on a picture one of her sisters had posted.
Morehouse said they are coming to Ceder Falls to support Arlo and make arrangements.
Tyler’s family is already in the area, a big reason why the couple moved there, Morehouse said.
Morehouse said the memories he will treasure most are the times his own children got to play with their cousins, like when they vacationed together in Kansas City during the Christmas season.
“One specific night it happened to be just blinding snow and ice and we still went out to the heated pool as to families and jumped in the water,” he said.
“I'll never forget Lula and the smiles on Arlo’s face while we were doing cannonballs into the hot water while it was snowing and icing on us/
“It was a memory I'll probably never forget with all four of those children at the time.
Joseph Sherwin, the father of shooting suspect Anthony Sherwin, who both lived in Nebraska, told the Des Moines Register that he and his son were camping Friday at the Maquoketa Caves State Park.
He told the outlet he awoke to the sound of gunshots and someone yelling.
"I saw a young boy run up from the area yelling for help.”
“I told him to keep running in my direction and I would help him.”
“ I asked him what happened and he said a man in black shot his family," the father said.
He told the outlet his son was not wearing black but that they were legally traveling with a gun but it was in a secure container under the back seat."
The younger Sherwin was found by police with a gunshot wound to the head.
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He had no criminal history and was living with his parents.
"We refuse to believe the news.”
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