Virginia Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, told a weekly newspaper today that he faults the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board for its treatment of his son, Austin C. "Gus" Deeds, who attacked his father and then shot himself last week – just 13 hours after being released by the agency from an emergency custody order.
In an interview published online today by The Recorder, based in Monterey, Deeds said, "I have very strong opinions about the CSB, and feel like they are responsible. My life's work now is to make sure other families don't have to go through what we are living."
Deeds was released from the University of Virginia Medical Center on Friday after being treated for multiple stab wounds to the head and upper torso. His son attacked him outside their home in Millboro last Tuesday at about 7:25 a.m., 13 hours after the emergency custody order expired and he was released, per state law. Gus Deeds then shot himself and died at the scene.
Dennis A. Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge Area CSB, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch the day of the attack that the community services board had no choice but to release Gus Deeds because it could not locate an appropriate hospital bed in the region for additional mental health evaluation and treatment under a temporary detention order. A number of hospitals have said they had psychiatric beds available and were not contacted.
Cropper was out of the office today and not available for comment.
"I cry a lot," Deeds told The Recorder. "I can't focus now and talk to anyone."
Deeds told the newspaper that he had spoken to Virginia State Police, which is investigating the incident, and had given police complete access to medical records and property.
"I hope we can make a positive change as a result of this tragedy," he told The Recorder. "I hope the justice we can get for my son is to force change in the delivery system for mental health services."
Deeds said Bath and Highland counties, in the Allegheny Highlands, "are at the end of the line" for mental health services.
"It seems inconvenient for those people to provide services here," he said. "I have heard from people in Rockbridge about lack of services, too, so I think there may be a bigger problem here."
"I am alive for a reason, and I will work for change," Deeds said. "I owe that to my precious son."