This story is horrific. It struck me even more so this morning, given that I had just been in contact with Virginia state Senator Creigh Deeds (D) last week on several occasions and had asked him to appear as my guest on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast.
Deeds is currently said to be in critical condition after being stabbed multiple times today in his own home, "in the head and torso," according to officials. His son Gus was found dead in the same home, the victim of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, adding the detail that the son "had been released Monday following a mental health evaluation performed under an emergency custody order." Joe St. George of CBS6 reports that Gus had withdrawn last month from William & Mary College.
"The son was evaluated Monday at Bath County hospital," Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge County Community Services Board told the Times-Dispatch, "but was released because no psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia."
The best news that can be reported from all of this for now is that officials said at a noon ET news conference today that VA's 2009 Democratic Gubernatorial candidate was able to communicate with state police about the incident before he was airlifted to a medical facility.
I had been in touch with Deeds over the last week or two in the course of our in-depth coverage of the incredibly close VA Attorney General post-election tabulation...
I had invited him onto the radio show to discuss, among other related issues, the likely upcoming "recount" in that race. Until this year's AG race, Deeds' own 2005 contest for AG against Bob McDonnell was the closest statewide race in history. It resulted in a "recount" that year and McDonnell was ultimately named the winner. The two men would square off again for Governor in 2009 when McDonnell was said to have won by a much wider margin. Deeds has been a state Senator since 2001.
I figured there was likely nobody better to help explain what lay ahead in the VA AG "recount" than Deeds. He was also instrumental in modifying VA election law, after his own "recount", to disallow the future purchase of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems. While much of the state still relies on 100% unverifiable (and un-"recountable") DRE voting systems, the state is slowing moving towards paper ballot optical-scan systems, since state law now bars the new purchase of DREs.
I don't pretend to know Deeds beyond a few short exchanges with him on Twitter over the last week or two, but he was helpful during the course of my reporting on the VA AG story, often answering questions on Twitter about issues in regard to VA's rather terrible "recount" statute.
He was unable to join me on the show last week, he told me, because he was "traveling at the moment" and "not schedule to be home till Saturday."
I've no idea if that was true, or if he was already embroiled in far more important family concerns at the time or not. Either way, this morning's news is stunning and horrible and I can only wish him a quick recovery from his own wounds.
In a related note...I don't know what the heck is going on today with tragic news for political families, but the 68-year old husband of Florida's former --- and extremely controversial --- Sec. of State Katherine Harris, reportedly committed suicide today as well. He too is said to have "been suffering from health issues in recent years."
A horrible day.
UPDATE 11/22/2013: Senator Deeds is released from hospital, takes to Twitter to offer inspiring message to supporters. Details...