State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a leading Virginia political figure who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009, was stabbed repeatedly Tuesday at his home during an altercation with his son, who then apparently took his own life, the authorities said.
Investigators believe that Deeds’ son, Gus, 24, stabbed his father before shooting himself. A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, Corinne Geller, described the episode as “an attempted murder-suicide.”
Deeds, 55, was in fair condition by late afternoon, after being flown by helicopter from rural Bath County, where he lives, to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. He was treated for multiple stab wounds to his head and upper torso.
Geller offered no details about the argument between father and son.
On Monday, state mental health officials unsuccessfully sought to find a bed in a hospital psychiatric ward for Gus Deeds, who had undergone an evaluation, according to Mary Ann Bergeron, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards.
None could be found and he returned home, even though a magistrate had issued an order of involuntary commitment. “In that particular rural area of the state it is not unusual to have contacted anywhere from seven to 15 hospitals” looking for an available bed, Bergeron said.
Dennis A. Cropper, executive director of Rockbridge Area Community Services, said Gus Deeds was evaluated at Bath Community Hospital, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Cropper issued a statement late Tuesday declining to elaborate, citing the family’s wish for privacy.
In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 by a mentally ill gunman, the state made it easier to get involuntary commitment orders.
Gus Deeds, whose given name was Austin, was alive when the police arrived at the house he shared with his father and stepmother, Geller said. He died soon after from his wounds.
Gus Deeds was one of four children of Deeds and his former wife, Pam, whose marriage ended a few months after the 2009 general election. Deeds remarried in 2012. The couple shared a home with Gus, a former student of the College of William & Mary. His Facebook page said he liked mountain climbing, instrument making and computer games. Under political views, he wrote, “Too busy with love to care.”
As a state senator, Deeds has represented the 25th District in rural western Virginia since 2001. Before that he served nine years in the Virginia House of Delegates.