State Sen. Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times early today at his Bath County home and his son, Gus, is dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Gus Deeds had been released Monday following a mental health evaluation performed under an emergency custody order, an official said.
At a news conference in Charlottesville, a Virginia State Police spokeswoman said Deeds, 55, was stabbed in the head and torso but was alert and had given statements to authorities. He was listed in fair condition at the University of Virginia Medical Center just before 3 p.m.
Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge County Community Services Board, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the emergency custody order, or ECO, allowed Gus Deeds to be held as long as four hours to determine whether he should be kept longer, up to 48 hours, under a temporary detention order.
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The son was evaluated Monday at Bath Community Hospital, Cropper said, but was released because no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia.
At the news conference, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Gus Deeds, 24, was found inside the family's residence in rural Millboro with a gunshot wound, and died at the scene. Geller said authorities are not looking for other suspects.
"We are looking at this as an attempted murder and suicide," Geller said at a late-afternoon news conference.
Authorities said they were still working to determine precisely what happened as the events unfolded around 7:25 a.m. at the home of Deeds, a Democrat who was his party's unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2009 and attorney general in 2005.
“Investigators are working now on confirming the motive and actual sequence of events that took place at the residence this morning,” said Geller. "There is still a great deal of work to be done. These things take time and we will follow up with more details once we are at that stage.”
Deeds and his son, Gus, 24, were the only people at the residence at the time of the stabbing, state police Sgt. Mike King confirmed at the scene. Geller said a weapon was recovered but authorities did not plan to immediately release any details about the firearm.
After he was stabbed, Deeds was able to walk about 75 yards down a private drive and out to state Route 42, where he was picked up by a cousin who lives nearby, King and Geller said. Deeds was flown to the hospital from the cousin’s farm.
It was unclear whether Deeds had contacted the cousin or if they may have met by chance.
Austin Creigh "Gus" Deeds was one of four children that Deeds had with his first wife. He attended the College of William and Mary but had recently withdrawn, according to the college.
The college community was "very saddened to hear this tragic news," said Brian Whitson, a William and Mary spokesman. "He had been enrolled as a student at William and Mary since 2007, though not continuously. He withdrew from the college last month and was not currently enrolled at the time of his death. Our hearts go out to the entire Deeds family."
Deeds, a 2007 graduate of Bath County High School, was a music major with a strong academic record, the college said. W&M sent a message to the campus community saying that "student affairs staff have been reaching out and offering assistance to those who were closest to Gus."
He had been charged with underage alcohol possession in 2009. The case was dismissed, according to court records in Bath County.
"This is a terrible tragedy," Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, said in a statement.
"Senator Deeds was very close to his son Gus, and has taken herculean efforts to help him over the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with Creigh and the family at this difficult time."
Deeds has served in the state Senate since 2001, representing Bath County. He lost two statewide contests to Republican Bob McDonnell, for attorney general in 2005 and for governor in 2009.
“In this tough and sad time, our thoughts and prayers are with the Deeds family," McDonnell said in a statement. "Creigh Deeds is an exceptional and committed public servant who has always done what he believes is best for Virginia and who gives his all to public service. He cares deeply about Virginia, and the people of Virginia care deeply for him.
"I urge all Virginians today to join me in praying for a full and complete recovery for Creigh and for many more years of his public service to the commonwealth. At this moment, our state unites in prayer for Creigh Deeds and his family.”
In an interview, McDonnell said he is "just stunned and really heartbroken for Creigh and his family... He's a good, decent, honest tenacious public servant."
Deeds won a special election in 2001 to fill the state Senate seat of Emily Couric, who died of cancer. The district extends from Charlottesville to the Alleghany Highlands and to the West Virginia line. It includes Bath - the third-least populous county in the commonwealth, with roughly 5,000 residents and no stoplights.
Outspent nearly 3 to 1, Deeds lost the 2005 race for attorney general to McDonnell by the slimmest margin in modern Virginia history -- until the current election for attorney general.
Deeds was born in Richmond in 1958, the son of a former Richmond police officer and state worker. His parents divorced when he was 7, and he moved with his mother and younger brother, Greg, to the Millboro farm of his maternal grandparents in Bath County, where his grandfather, Austin Creigh Tyree, was chairman of the Democratic committee.
Deeds and his first wife, Pamela Kay Miller, had four children: Amanda, Rebecca, Gus, and Susannah. Amanda and Gus, then a junior at William and Mary, took time off to join their father on the trail in 2009.
Deeds and his first wife divorced in 2010. The Washington Post reported at the time that the marriage was "a casualty of a nearly 20-year pursuit of a lifelong ambition that kept him away from home."
Deeds married Siobhan Gilbride Lomax of Lexington in June 2012.
Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta, shares representation of part of Albemarle County with Deeds, and he said they often had talked about their families.
"It's just a real shock," said Landes, who was on his way to Roanoke today for the annual two-day retreat of the House Appropriations Committee.
"I know his family is very important to him," Landes said. "It's just very unfortunate and tragic."
The U.Va. University Democrats and College Republicans announced they will hold a joint vigil for Deeds at 7 p.m. Thursday at the U.Va. Ampitheater.
(Olympia Meola, Karin Kapsidelis and Andrew Cain contributed to this report.)