US state senator Creigh Deeds survives stab attack by son who then killed himself
Virginia politician survives despite multiple wounds after row at his home with son who had mental health evaluation the day before
A state senator was repeatedly stabbed by his son, who then killed himself, police believe.
The incident involving Creigh Deeds, a leading political figure in Virginia who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009, took place at his home in Bath County.
Investigators said his son, Gus, 24, shot himself.
A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, Corinne Geller, described the episode as "an attempted murder-suicide".
Deeds, 55, was said to be in a "fair" condition after he was flown to the University of Virginia Medical Centre in Charlottesville by helicopter.
He was treated for multiple stab wounds to his head and upper torso. Geller offered no details about the argument between father and son.
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.
Despite his injuries, Creigh Deeds was able to walk down the driveway from his home in the community of Millboro to a state highway, the authorities said.
A cousin who was driving by took him to his house. The authorities responded to a 911 call at 7.25am.
It was later revealed that on Monday, state health officials tried to find a bed in a hospital psychiatric ward for Gus.
He had undergone a mental evaluation, according to Mary Ann Bergeron, executive director of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards.
No bed 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 Cropper, executive director of Rockbridge Area Community Services, said Gus Deeds was evaluated at Bath Community Hospital, according to a report in The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Cropper refused 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.
The stabbing sent shock waves through Virginia political circles. The governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe, said in a statement: "My wife Dorothy and I are praying for Senator Creigh Deeds and his family in the wake of this awful tragedy."
Senator Mark Warner posted a Twitter message saying: "Stunning news from Bath County. I am praying for Creigh Deeds and his family at this very, very difficult time."
Deeds won the 2009 Democratic primary for governor, defeating McAuliffe. But he was trounced in the general election by Bob McDonnell, the departing governor, who won in a 17-point landslide.
McAuliffe was elected governor this month at the second attempt over Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II.
Gus Deeds was one of four children of Creigh Deeds and his former wife Pam, whose marriage ended a few months after the 2009 general election.
Deeds remarried last year. 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."
Deeds has been a state senator since 2001. Before that he served nine years in the Virginia House of Delegates.