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Altercation between Senator Deeds and son started outside the home

By Web Staff, WDBJ7, news@wdbj7.com
Susan Bahorich, sbahorich@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:50:10 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 20 2013 07:55:16 PM EST

Police believe Gus Deeds attacked his father, before shooting himself with a rifle.

BATH CO., Va. -

We’re learning more about the attempted murder of a State Senator and the suicide of his son.

Virginia State Police say the altercation between Sen. Creigh Deeds and his son, Gus Deeds, began Tuesday morning outside of their Bath County home. Creigh Deeds, 55, was stabbed multiple times in the head and torso.

Gus Deeds, 24, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a rifle. He was found inside of the home. He was alive when troopers and first responders found him, but he eventually died at the scene.

Investigators recovered a weapon believed to have been used in Creigh Deeds’ stabbing. The type of weapon will not be released until the Virginia Department of Forensic Evidence confirms that it was used in the attack.

State police also confirmed that the Bath County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Deeds’ home Monday to a “non-emergency call for assistance.” No arrests or charges were placed. Prior to Monday, the Bath County Sheriff’s Office does not have a record of any 911 or non-emergency calls to the Deeds’ home.

It’s still not clear who owned the rifle that Gus Deeds used to kill himself. According to State Police: “Virginia law prohibits any kind of firearm registration (except for a machine gun), therefore there is no registry of firearm ownership.”

Deeds was upgraded from “fair” to “good” condition on Wednesday at UVA Hospital in Charlottesville.

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MILLBORO, Va. (AP) -- Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds was in good condition at a hospital Wednesday, a day after the one-time Democratic gubernatorial nominee was apparently stabbed by his son.

Deeds was stabbed in the head and chest at his home in rural western Virginia and police were trying to figure out what led up to the altercation with his son, who died at the home from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

By most accounts, Deeds' relationship with his 24-year-old son, Gus, was a seemingly close one. Gus Deeds left college to help his father's 2009 campaign for governor, and the elder Deeds had made "herculean efforts" to help his son over the years, one of the senator's colleagues said.

Creigh (pronounced kree) Deeds, a socially conservative Democrat, rose to be gubernatorial nominee in 2009 despite his reserved demeanor and humble farmland roots. He and his son were the only ones at his house on a farm in Millboro when the stabbing took place.

Police recovered a gun at the home, but have not provided details about it. They also have not said what the senator was stabbed with.

State Police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said police have been able to talk with the senator, but she would not reveal what he has said.

Deeds made his first bid for statewide office in 2005 when he ran for attorney general and lost to Republican Bob McDonnell by less than 400 votes. Four years later, he defeated Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran in the Democratic primary, then squared off with McDonnell again in the general election. This time he lost badly.

During that race, Deeds' style was somewhat unorthodox. He would listen intently to people and their worries, but rarely did he engage in lengthy conversations on the campaign trail, seemingly almost reluctant to impose on people's time. He said then he didn't think Virginia voters could be won by style points, drawing a contrast to McDonnell.

Gus Deeds is one of the senator's four adult children. He studied music at the College of William and Mary, where he had been enrolled off and on since 2007, but withdrew last month, school spokesman Brian Whitson said. The college said he had a strong academic record. It 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.

Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, whose district overlaps with Deeds', said in a statement: "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."

At the Millboro Mercantile and Grocery Store, several miles from the Deeds home in remote, mountainous Bath County, a neighbor said he had a high regard for father and son.

"A fine neighbor. You couldn't ask for a better neighbor," said Joe Wood, 64, who said he had known Creigh Deeds since the late 1970s. "If something happened, he was right there."

Wood mentioned Gus' campaigning with his father during his unsuccessful run for governor, and he said the younger Deeds and his sisters came to his house often through the years.

Wood said while he had heard Gus had struggled with mental health issues, he couldn't fathom what would have caused the violent encounter.

"They thought the world of each other," Wood said. "That's what's surprising about this whole deal."

Deeds and his ex-wife, Pam, divorced shortly after the 2009 campaign. Deeds remarried last year.

Deeds spent most of his childhood in Bath County, where his family settled in the 1740s. The rural county is known for the luxury Homestead resort, but Deeds grew up on the other side of the mountain.

"I didn't grow up on the end of the county where you learn to ski and play golf as a child," he said. Deeds lived on a farm after his parents divorced when he was about 7.

Deeds, a former Bath County prosecutor, was elected to the House of Delegates in 1991 and to the state Senate in 2001.
 

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Police say early indications are that the son of a state senator in Virginia stabbed his father before shooting himself to death.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference that authorities are still investigating the stabbing of Sen. Creigh Deeds, but it appears it was an attempted murder and suicide.

Creigh Deeds was stabbed several times in the head and torso Tuesday morning at his Bath County home. Gus Deeds died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 24. A firearm was recovered at the Millboro-area home.

"At this time we're still piecing together the exact circumstances that led up to the altercation and followed afterwards, but based on the evidence we are looking into this as an attempted murder and suicide," Geller said.

Deeds was stabbed numerous times before he walked down Vineyard Drive and out on to Virginia State Route 42, where he was picked up by a cousin who lives nearby, state police said. Deeds was airlifted to Charlottesville from his cousin's farm. Creigh Deeds has spoken with investigators about the incident.

As of Tuesday night, Deeds was listed in "fair condition" at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Gus Deeds and Creigh Deeds were the only ones home at the time of altercation. Creigh Deeds represents the 25th District. The Democrat ran for governor in 2009.

Geller said the Bath County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about 7:25 a.m. Gus Deeds was found inside the residence with life-threatening injuries from a gunshot wound, Geller said. Despite the response of emergency personnel, the senator's son died at the scene.

"It's a very complex investigation," Geller said. Geller asked for the public to respect the Deeds’ privacy. “They have a lot to deal with right now,” she said.

Police are not saying who the gun found at the scene belongs to or what kind it is. They also aren't identifying the weapon used to stab Senator Deeds. Gus Deeds’ remains have been taken to Roanoke for an autopsy and examination.

Bath County Sheriff Robert Plecker tells WDBJ7 that his department was called to the Deeds’ home Monday. Plecker did not go into detail about the incident. He did not classify the call as a domestic situation.

Plecker knows the Deeds family and coached Gus Deeds. Plecker says to say that he is shocked about the incident is an understatement.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Gus Deeds had a mental health evaluation Monday in Bath County and was released.

The Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper spoke to the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, which treats the mentally ill. The executive director told the Times-Dispatch that there weren't any psychiatric beds available across a wide portion of western Virginia, so Gus was able to go home.

The Rockbridge Area Community Services Board released this statement to WDBJ7:

“While I cannot confirm whether or not anyone was issued an Emergency Custody Order (ECO), what information we can provide at this time is the typical procedure involved in an ECO.  Once a person is taken into custody under an ECO they can be held for up to 4 hours while an evaluation from a Mental Health professional is conducted.  Within those four hours, if a mental health professional determines that they need a psychiatric bed space, they have to use those same 4 hours to locate a receiving facility.  In certain conditions a 2 hour extension is granted by a magistrate, but under no circumstances can a person be held beyond 6 hours involuntarily under an ECO.  We ask that the community respect the family’s privacy while they grieve the loss of their son and brother.”

Gus Deeds attended William & Mary College off and on since 2007. According to the school Deeds withdrew last month. “Our hearts go out to the entire Deeds family,” a statement from William & Mary read.

"I think everyone was just stunned, no one expected this from Gus,” assistant professor Max Katz said. “In class, he was a favorite kind of student, ready to be challenged by the material.”

Creigh Deeds was born in Richmond in 1958, but he has lived in Bath County for most of his life. His career has included two campaigns for statewide office.

Deeds ran for Attorney General in 2005. That was the race he lost by 360 votes to Republican Bob McDonnell. In 2009 Deeds was the Democratic nominee in the race for governor. He also lost that race to McDonnell.

Deeds' political career began in Bath County. The earliest interview with Creigh Deeds in the WDBJ7 archive dates back to 1987, when he was running for Bath County Commonwealth's Attorney. He won that election.

By the fall of 1991 he was running for the House of Delegates. He spent 10 years in the House of Delegates, and then won a special election for the State Senate after Emily Couric died from pancreatic cancer.

During his campaign for Governor, Deeds often referred to his Bath County roots, saying it was almost beyond belief that a boy of humble beginnings from rural Virginia would have a chance to run for Governor.

Deeds has four children. Gus Deeds was his only son. Deeds and his wife, Pam, divorced shortly after the 2009 campaign. Deeds remarried last year.

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.

Deeds' reputation among colleagues has been as a thoughtful legislator. On social issues, he is generally to the right of party liberals, supporting abortion rights, but opposing gay marriage and gun control measures. He wrote a constitutional amendment guaranteeing Virginians' right to hunt and fish.

He proved to be a reserved campaigner in 2009, described as shy by his fellow lawmakers.

"I don't like fundraising. I don't like being away from home all the time," he said during the campaign. "I enjoy the service. I enjoy the work that politics allows you to do. I don't know that I really enjoy the process that much."

Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, whose district overlaps with Deeds', said in a statement: "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."

Gov.-elect McAuliffe called it a sad day for Virginia and the many people who know Creigh.

"We join people across the Commonwealth and country in wishing him a full recovery," he said.

At 7 p.m. Thursday college groups representing Democrats and Republicans at the University of Virginia will hold a vigil for the senator. It will be held at the UVA Amphitheater on campus.


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Virginia State Police are looking at the stabbing of State Senator Creigh Deeds and the death of his son, Gus, as an attempted murder and suicide.

Creigh Deeds was stabbed several times in the head and torso Tuesday morning. Gus Deeds died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 24.

A firearm was recovered at the scene.

Check back soon for more updates.

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State Senator Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times in his Bath County home on Tuesday morning, and flown to UVA Hospital in Charlottesville for treatment of “serious injuries.”

Deeds is listed in fair condition at UVA Hospital. Deeds’ son, Austin C. "Gus" Deeds, was found dead inside the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Creigh Deeds represents the 25th District. The Democrat ran for governor in 2009. 

Virginia State Police are looking at the stabbing of State Senator Creigh Deeds and the death of his son, Gus, as an attempted murder and suicide.

Creigh Deeds was stabbed several times in his head and torso Tuesday morning. Gus Deeds died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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Deeds was stabbed numerous times in the head and upper torso, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said during a news conference at Virginia State Police headquarters in Albemarle County on Tuesday afternoon. Virginia State Police will hold a 3:30 p.m. news conference to update the situation.

Deeds and his son were the only people in the home at the time of the stabbing.  Deeds was stabbed numerous times before he walked down Vineyard Drive and out on to Virginia State Route 42, where he was picked up by a cousin who lives nearby, state police said. Deeds was airlifted from his cousin's farm.

Creigh Deeds has spoken with investigators. Police are not looking for any suspects. It's not clear yet who called 911.

Authorities are trying to determine more about the sequence of events. Geller said that Bath County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about 7:25 a.m. Gus Deeds was found inside the residence with life-threatening injuries from a gunshot wound, Geller said. Despite the response of emergency personnel, the senator's son died at the scene.

"It's a very complex investigation," Geller said.

Gus Deeds, 24, attended William & Mary College off and on since 2007. According to the school Deeds withdrew last month and was not enrolled at the time of his death. “Our hearts go out to the entire Deeds family,” a statement from William & Mary read.

Creigh Deeds was born in Richmond in 1958, but he has lived in Bath County for most of his life. His career has included two campaigns for statewide office.

Deeds ran for Attorney General in 2005.  That was the race he lost by 360 votes to Republican Bob McDonnell. In 2009 Deeds was the Democratic nominee in the race for governor. He also lost that race to McDonnell.

Deeds' political career began in Bath County. The earliest interview with Creigh Deeds in the WDBJ7 archive dates back to 1987, when he was running for Bath County Commonwealth's Attorney. He won that election.

By the fall of 1991 he was running for the House of Delegates. He spent 10 years in the House of Delegates, and then won a special election for the State Senate after Emily Couric died from pancreatic cancer.

During his campaign for Governor, Deeds often referred to his Bath County roots, saying it was almost beyond belief that a boy of humble beginnings from rural Virginia would have a chance to run for Governor.

Deeds has four children. Gus Deeds was his only son. Deeds and his wife, Pam, divorced shortly after the 2009 campaign. Deeds remarried last year.

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.

Deeds' reputation among colleagues has been as a thoughtful legislator. On social issues, he is generally to the right of party liberals, supporting abortion rights, but opposing gay marriage and gun control measures. He wrote a constitutional amendment guaranteeing Virginians' right to hunt and fish.

He proved to be a reserved campaigner in 2009, described as shy by his fellow lawmakers.

"I don't like fundraising. I don't like being away from home all the time," he said during the campaign. "I enjoy the service. I enjoy the work that politics allows you to do. I don't know that I really enjoy the process that much."

Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, whose district overlaps with Deeds', said in a statement: "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."

Gov.-elect McAuliffe called it a sad day for Virginia and the many people who know Creigh.

"We join people across the Commonwealth and country in wishing him a full recovery," he said.

Statement from Governor McDonnell

“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.”

Virginia State Police News Release

Virginia State Police are on the scene of an assault of a state legislator that took place Tuesday morning (Nov. 19). Senator Creigh Deeds has been transported to UVA Hospital in Charlottesville for treatment of serious injuries sustained in the assault at his residence.

At 7:25 a.m., Virginia State Police responded to Senator Deeds’ residence in Bath County. Senator Deeds was flown from the scene to UVA Hospital. A second individual at the residence is deceased.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office.

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Virginia State Police are investigating a stabbing in Bath County.

The incident is in the Millboro Springs area.

A source tells WDBJ7 that State Senator Creigh Deeds has been flown from Bath County to the University of Virginia Medical Center but it is unknown if these two events are connected.

Deeds represents the 25th District. He ran for governor in 2009.

Virginia State Police are setting up a media staging area. WDBJ7 has a crew on the way. Check back soon for more updates.

Here is the news release from Virginia State Police:

Virginia State Police are on the scene of an assault of a state legislator that took place Tuesday morning (Nov. 19). Senator Creigh Deeds has been transported to UVA Hospital in Charlottesville for treatment of serious injuries sustained in the assault at his residence.

At 7:25 a.m., Virginia State Police responded to Senator Deeds’ residence in Bath County. Senator Deeds was flown from the scene to UVA Hospital. A second individual at the residence is deceased.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office.