Police believe Va. senator was stabbed by son

Sen. Creigh Deeds is seriously injured after an assault at his house. Another person died in the incident, according to police. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images)
4:20 p.m. - Jeff Golberg, ABC 7

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 10:38 pm

WASHINGTON – Virginia State Police say early indications are that the son of state Sen. Creigh Deeds stabbed his father multiple times in the head and upper torso before shooting himself to death.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corrine Geller says authorities are still investigating Deeds’ attack, but it appears it was an attempted murder-suicide.

The incident occurred shortly before 7:25 a.m. in the senator’s Millboro home in Bath County, officials say. No one else was home at the time.

After the stabbing, Deeds was able to walk away from his home to a nearby road in rural western Virginia. A cousin who was driving by happened to spot the senator, police say. They drove to the cousin’s home and 911 was called from there.

Deeds was transported to University of Virginia Hospital. He has spoken with investigators, but details have not been released.

State police will not comment on the sequence of events or a possible motive.

“We still have a lot of questions,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says.

“It’s a very complex investigation.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that Gus Deeds received a mental health evaluation Monday, which was performed under an emergency custody order. Virginia State Police will not comment on the matter.

Deeds, known for his reserved demeanor and humble farmland roots, has represented the 25th district of Virginia since 2001. The district includes the cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Covington and Lexington as well as the counties of Albemarle (part), Alleghany, Bath, Highland, Nelson and Rockbridge.

Deeds was elected to the House of Delegates in 1991 and to the state Senate in 2001, in a special election after the death of Emily Couric. He ran for attorney general in 2005, but lost to Republican Bob McDonnell. The margin of victory was fewer than 400 votes out of nearly 2 million cast.

Deeds and McDonnell squared off again in 2009 in the race for governor after Deeds defeated Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran in the Democratic Party. But Deeds lost badly that time.

Deeds, a rural Democrat who drafted a constitutional amendment guaranteeing Virginians’ right to hunt, long enjoyed support from the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates.

Deeds and his wife, Pam, divorced shortly after the 2009 campaign.

Northern Virginia Democrat Chap Peterson, who represents the 34th district, says he became friends with Deeds in 2005 when Peterson was running for lieutenant governor.

“He is a Democrat’s Democrat,” he says. “He loves the people he presents.”

Peterson and Deeds forged a close friendship on the campaign trail — both men have four children and “closed down a couple pubs in [their] time,” Peterson says.

The Northern Virginia Democrat says he has met Deeds’ son several times over the years. While he declined to provide details about their relationship, Peterson did say Deeds worried about his son.

“I really can’t say too much other than I know Creigh had concerns about Gus about various issues,” he says.

“I really don’t want to go into the details of it … I just know, as a father, he had concerns.”

Gus Deeds had been enrolled at the College of William and Mary off and on since 2007, and withdrew last month, school spokesman Brian Whitson says. The college did not say why he left.

During Deeds’ bid for governor, his son took off a semester to join his dad on the campaign trail.

“He needs me and I need him,” Deeds told a reporter in the fall of 2009, about campaigning with Gus.

“I’ve got to go through this campaign process but that doesn’t mean I’ve got to be completely separated from my family the whole time,” he said at the time.

Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, whose district overlaps with Deeds’, says in a statement that “Sen. 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.”

McDonnell says in a statement the news was “utterly heartbreaking:”

“In this tough and sad time, our thoughts and prayers are with the Deeds family. The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking. 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.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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