By Gary Robertson
RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters) – A Virginia state senator who mounted an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2009 was stabbed and critically wounded in an attack at his home early on Tuesday, and his 24-year-old son was killed by a gunshot wound, police said.
Creigh Deeds, 55, a Democrat, was flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center where he was being treated for stab wounds to his head and upper body, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told a news conference.
Police gave scant details about what they believe happened inside the home, except to say they were not looking for any suspects in the attack at the senator's permanent residence in Millboro, in one of the state's least populated counties.
After Deeds was stabbed early on Tuesday, the senator was able to walk from his home to the street, police said. A cousin who was driving by saw him, picked him up and took him to the cousin's home, where they called police.
Police found the senator badly wounded. His son, Austin "Gus" Deeds, 24, was alive at the home when police arrived, Geller said, but died at the scene.
"The motive and the actual sequence of events is the real crux and the focus of the investigation for our folks today," Geller said, adding that the senator has been able to talk to police. She declined to release details about his statements.
Hospital officials said the senator was in critical condition on Tuesday afternoon.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican who defeated Deeds for the state's top office in 2009, offered his condolences and said the state "unites in prayer" for Deeds's recovery.
"The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking," McDonnell said in a statement. "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."
Deeds was the Democratic nominee for state attorney general in 2005 and governor in 2009, but lost both races. He has been a state senator since 2001.
Born in Richmond, Virginia, Deeds attended Concord College and Wake Forest University School of Law and served in the Virginia House of Representatives for nine years until he joined the Senate in 2001, according to his official state website.
According to media reports, Gus Deeds, a music major at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, took a semester off school in 2009 to help his father campaign.
Officials at the college said Tuesday that he been enrolled off and on since graduating high school in 2007, but he had withdrawn from the college earlier this semester.