MILLBORO, Virginia (AP) — A U.S. state senator was in good condition at a hospital Wednesday, a day after the one-time Virginia gubernatorial nominee was apparently stabbed by his son.
Sen. Creigh 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 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 squared off against McDonnell again in the gubernatorial election. This time he lost badly.
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. 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.
Joe Wood, who said he had known Creigh Deeds since the late 1970s, 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.
Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat contributed to this report from McLean, Virginia, and Michael Felberbaum contributed from Richmond, Virginia.
Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sszkotakap .
O'Dell reported from Charlottesville, Virginia.