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Va. state senator upgraded to fair after attack by son

Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds has been upgraded to good condition one day after he was apparently stabbed by his son.

Virginia State Police are still working to determine why the senator's son assaulted him before fatally shooting himself.

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

At two afternoon news conferences Tuesday, state police stopped short of confirming what other sources had told NBCWashington.com: That 24-year-old Austin "Gus" Deeds stabbed his father then killed himself. But state police did confirm that Creigh Deeds suffered multiple stab wounds to the head and upper torso during an altercation at his home, and that Gus Deeds died at the scene of a gunshot wound.

Creigh Deeds, 55, was able to walk out of the home and down a hill on his property (seen in the picture below) to Route 42, where he was spotted and picked up by a cousin, who took the senator to his residence. 

Deeds was airlifted to UVa. Medical Center, where he was initially listed in critical condition and was treated in the intensive care unit.

The hospital will hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon to provide an update on the senator's condition.

Troopers and first responders attempted to treat Gus Deeds, but he died at the scene. His body was taken to the medical examiner in Roanoke for an autopsy.

Investigators recovered a firearm at the scene, but police did not say what type.

Police are not seeking any other suspects, Geller said.

Virginia State Police said in a press conference Tuesday that they believe the incident happened shortly before 7:25 a.m., when the Bath County Sheriff's Department received the 911 call. They are not sure who placed the call.

Creigh Deeds has been able to speak to investigators, Geller said. The Bath County Sheriff's Department is assisting Virginia State Police with the investigation.

"The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. "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."

Four years ago, Deeds, a Democrat, lost badly to Republican McDonnell in the Virginia governor's race, although Barack Obama had carried the commonwealth just a year earlier. Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said the loss was a reaction to Obama's election in 2008, and a harbinger of the Tea Party surge.

But Deeds has held strong as a Democrat in a legislative district that encompasses both the urban center of Charlottesville and more rural, typically Republican areas of far western Virginia. Deeds has also been helped by his home turf of Bath County, which is typically Republican but turns out the vote for one of their own, Sabato said.

State police would not comment on reports that Gus Deeds was released from Bath Community Hospital Monday following a mental health evaluation performed under an emergency custody order. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported a psychiatric bed could not be found for him over a wide area of western Virginia.

"While I cannot confirm whether or not anyone was issued an Emergency Custody Order (ECO), what information we can provide at this time is the typical procedure involved in an ECO," read a statement from Dennis A. Cropper, Ph.D., executive director of Rockbridge Area Community Services in Lexington, who was cited in the Times-Dispatch. "Once a person is taken into custody under an ECO, they can be held for up to four hours while an evaluation from a Mental Health professional is conducted. Within those four hours, if a mental health professional determines that they need a psychiatric bed space, they have to use those same four hours to locate a receiving facility. In certain conditions, a two-hour extension is granted by a magistrate, but under no circumstances can a person be held beyond six hours involuntarily under an ECO."

Colleagues of Sen. Deeds said they've heard of difficulties with his son but never imagined an outcome like this.

Gus Deeds withdrew from the College of William & Mary last month, the college said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. He had been enrolled there since 2007, although not continuously.

He was a music major with "a strong academic record," according to the school.

"Our hearts go out to the entire Deeds family," the school's statement read in part.

The same year his father ran for governor, Gus Deeds, then 20,  was arrested in Bath County for alcohol possession, according to the Virginian Pilot.

Reaction to the news of the attack on Creigh Deeds came from throughout the commonwealth.

"This is a truly sad day for Virginia and for the many people who know Creigh as the fine public servant and friend he is," said Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe, whom Deeds defeated in the Democratic primary in 2009. "We join people across the Commonwealth and country in wishing him a full recovery."

Creigh Deeds has been a Virginia state senator since 2001, representing Virginia's 25th District. He served in the House of Delegates for 10 years prior and ran unsuccessfully for attorney general of Virginia in 2005 before his run for governor in 2009.

Deeds and his first wife, Pam, divorced after nearly 20 years of marriage in 2010. The couple also has three daughters. Deeds married his second wife in June 2012. She was not home at the time of the altercation.