MILLBORO SPRINGS –A Tuesday morning altercation between State Sen. Creigh Deeds and his son has left his son dead of a gunshot wound and the senator in fair condition with multiple stab wounds, according to Virginia State Police.
“We’re leaning towards it being an attempted murder-suicide,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said, although she said it has not definitely been ruled as such. “We’re looking at a lot of different possibilities.”
Geller said that Creigh Deeds, 55, Gus Deeds, and Creigh Deeds’ wife all live in the home. Geller said that only Creigh and Gus Deeds were home at the time. She said police are not currently seeking any other suspects.
Authorities are trying to determine the sequence of events at the Deeds home, a secluded farm house at the end of a long gravel driveway, about four miles south of Millboro Springs in rural Bath County.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch learned that an emergency custody order had been issued for Deeds' son, Austin Creigh “Gus” Deeds, 24, on Monday, which allowed mental health officials to hold him for up to four hours to determine if he should be held under a temporary detention order. That order would have allowed him to be held for up to 72 hours.
Gus Deeds was evaluated Monday by the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board in Lexington but no psychiatric bed was available, which is why Gus Deeds was released.
Around 7:25 a.m. Tuesday, police received a 911 call about the altercation, though Geller could not say who made the 911 call. Police found Gus Deeds with a single gunshot wound in the Deeds’ home in the first block of Vineyard Drive in the Millsboro area of Bath County, Geller said.
Geller said Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times around the head and upper body but would not say whether the attacks occurred inside or outside of the home.
Deeds walked down a hill that the house sits on, to Route 42 at the bottom of his driveway, Geller said. Geller said the house is not visible from the road, and is about 75 yards from the road. A cousin of Deeds who lives in the area was driving on the road, saw Deeds, and stopped to pick him up, Geller said.
The two went to the cousin’s home, where rescue personnel responded to treat Deeds’ injuries. An ambulance then took Deeds to a nearby farm, which also belonged to one of his relatives. He was flown by medical helicopter to the University of Virginia medical center. Geller said Deeds was alert and had made statements to officers.
Another helicopter was called to evacuate Gus Deeds, but he died at the home. His body was taken to the office of the medical examiner in Roanoke for autopsy.
Geller would not comment on Gus Deeds’ mental health or other medical information. “State law prohibits us from acknowledging” anything about an emergency custody order, or ECO, reportedly placed on Gus Deeds on Monday.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” said Delegate David J. Toscano, C-Charlottesville. Toscano was reported by staff to be at UVa Hospital to support the Deeds family. “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’ son became a minor political football in the 2009 race for governor when he was charged with underage possession of alcohol. Republican Party supporters brought the charge to the public’s attention, noting that the elder Deeds supported tough underage drinking legislation in the past.
The younger Deeds was the 2007 valedictorian for Bath County High School, according to the Highland County Recorder. He attended the College of William and Mary and made the dean’s list for spring semester 2013, according to the school. He had recently withdrawn from school, according to the college.
"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," said Brian Whitson, a William and Mary spokesman. "Our hearts go out to the entire Deeds family."
Deeds had a near perfect 3.96 grade point average in high school and the highest class average in 10 different subjects at the school and held the school record for the most perfect scores on state’s Standards of Learning tests with six 600s, according to The Record.
UVa student Democrats and Republicans will hold an 7 p.m. vigil for Deeds at the UVA Amphitheater.
“The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell, who beat Deeds for the governorship in the 2009 election. “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.”
McDonnell said Deeds cares deeply about Virginia.
“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,” he said.
“This is a truly sad day for Virginia and for the many people who know Creigh as the fine public servant and friend he is,” said Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe. “We join people across the commonwealth and country in wishing him a full recovery.”
Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw said Sen. Deeds has been a big asset to the legislature.
“This is a tragedy that no family should have to go through. Our thoughts and prayers are for a full and speedy recovery,” he said.
“My thoughts and prayers are with my good friend Creigh and his family in this terrible, heartbreaking time,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin. “We all pray for his complete recovery and that he and his family may find some peace and comfort in their future.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch contributed to this story.