The Millboro, Va., home of state Sen. Creigh Deeds. He was attacked there Tuesday — authorities believe by his son Gus. The younger Deeds then may have fatally shot himself, investigators say. Don Petersen/AP
As authorities try to piece together what happened inside the home of a prominent Virginia lawmaker Tuesday, there’s word that a lack of space in psychiatric facilities may have played a role in the tragedy.
Creigh Deeds, a state senator and the Democratic Party’s 2009 gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, was stabbed multiple times Tuesday morning at the family’s home near the border with West Virginia.
When state police got to the scene, they found Deeds’ 24-year-old son, Gus, mortally wounded from a gunshot. Though authorities have yet to determine the exact sequence of events, they’re working on the theory that the elder Deeds was attacked by his son — and that the younger man may have then shot himself.
Now there’s news that indicates the family was trying to deal with a serious problem.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that:
“Gus Deeds had been released Monday after a mental health evaluation performed under an emergency custody order, an official said. …
“Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, [said] that the emergency custody order, or ECO, allowed Gus Deeds to be held as long as four hours to determine whether he should be kept longer, up to 48 hours, under a temporary detention order.
“The son was evaluated Monday at Bath Community Hospital, Cropper said, but was released because no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of Virginia.”
In another story, the Times-Dispatch reports that some of those who knew Gus Deeds are stunned. At the College of William and Mary, where Deeds had attended classes in recent years, he’s “remembered not as a troubled young man but as an exuberant and talented musician,” the newspaper says.
Brian Hulse, an associate professor of music theory and composition, says of Gus Deeds that, “I adored the kid and thought he was a really special, unique person.” He had “a wide, expansive personality.”
Mary Brennan, a junior at the college, tells the Times-Dispatch that Deeds “always wanted to talk about you or, if he did talk about himself, it was to tell you a story to make you smile.”
The Associated Press adds that “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.’ “
The elder Deeds is in fair condition at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.