US & Canada

Virginia state Senator Creigh Deeds stabbed by son, police believe

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds hugs his son Gus as daughters Susannah (L) and Amanda look on following a speech to supporters gathered on election night in Richmond, Virginia 3 November 2009
Image caption Creigh Deeds hugs his son, Gus, on election night in 2009 as two of his daughters look on

Police in the US state of Virginia say they believe the son of a state senator stabbed his father before shooting himself to death.

Senator Creigh Deeds, a former candidate for governor, is in "fair" condition from stab wounds to his head and torso, said police.

The other person found in the property was Mr Deeds's son, Gus, 24, who died at the scene from a gunshot wound.

Police said they were not looking for any suspects.

Virginia state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said investigators were still trying to figure out motive and the sequence of events but said the two men had been involved in an "altercation".

Ms Geller said that "based on the evidence we have right now we are looking into this as an attempted murder and suicide".

Police said that despite his injuries Mr Deeds was able to walk from his home in rural Bath County, western Virginia, to a nearby road. A cousin who was driving by saw him and picked him up, making a call to emergency services.

Mr Deeds, 55, was flown to the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville.

Ms Geller said that he had "been able to talk with investigators and our troopers" about the incident.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper reported that Gus Deeds underwent a mental-health evaluation at a hospital on Monday, but was released due to a lack of psychiatric beds in the area.

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Media captionCorinne Geller, Virginia state police: "Investigators are working on the motive and sequence of events"

The state senator, a Democrat elected in 2001, represents Bath County.

He ran unsuccessfully in 2009 against current Republican Governor Bob McDonnell. Four years earlier he lost to Mr McDonnell in a tight race for state attorney general.

Shortly after the gubernatorial campaign, Mr Deeds and his wife, Pam, were divorced.

He remarried last year but police said there was no-one else in the house at the time of the incident.

'Exceptional public servant'

Governor McDonnell said in a statement: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Deeds family."

He added: "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."

Local politician David Toscano told the Washington Times that Tuesday's incident was "a terrible tragedy".

"Senator Deeds was very close to his son Gus, and has taken herculean efforts to help him over the years," said Mr Toscano.

Gus Deeds has enrolled at the College of William and Mary in Virginia where he studied music, but he had withdrawn last month, according to school spokesman Brian Whitson.

The college said he had a strong academic record but did not say why he left.

He had earlier taken time off university to campaign with his father during his bid for governor.

"He needs me and I need him," Senator Deeds told a reporter in the autumn of 2009, about campaigning with Gus.