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Creigh Deeds: 'The system failed my son'

By Dana Ford, CNN
updated 11:01 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sen. Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times by his son, Gus
  • "I turned my back ... and he was just on me," Deeds tells "60 Minutes"
  • He says he hopes other families don't have to suffer what his has

(CNN) -- Creigh Deeds remembers turning his back just before his son attacked him, stabbing the Virginia state senator multiple times.

Deeds had gone out to the barn to feed the horses. His son, Austin "Gus" Deeds, came across the yard.

"I said, 'Hey bud, how'd you sleep?' He said, 'fine.' I turned my back ... and he was just on me," Deeds told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview that aired Sunday night.

"I said, 'Gus, I love you so much.' I said, 'Don't make this any worse than it is.' He just kept coming at me."

Deputies called to Deeds' home day before fatal fight

Less than 24 hours before the November 19 stabbing, Deeds' son had undergone an evaluation by mental health professionals while he was under an emergency custody order.

Officials reportedly had to release Gus, 24, because no psychiatric bed was available and an individual could only be held under emergency custody for up to six hours.

"The system failed my son," Deeds said he told a representative of the county agency that manages mental health care.

"I was concerned that if he came home there was going to be a crisis," Deeds told "60 Minutes."

After Newtown, mental health gains prominence in gun debate

That night, Deeds and his son sat at opposite ends of a dining room table at the residence in Millboro. Deeds ate while Gus wrote furiously in his journal.

"I felt like there'd be a confrontation but I didn't, I had no reason to think there'd be violence," Deeds said.

The next morning, Gus stabbed his father in the chest and head. He then turned a gun on himself and died.

Deeds still bears scars on his face. In spite of the attack, he told "60 Minutes" that Gus was a "great kid . ... perfect son."

He said he hopes that his son is not defined by his illness and that his life will have a positive impact.

The Democratic lawmaker has introduced legislation that targets mental health services in the commonwealth.

His agenda for the 2014 session includes proposals that would create a psychiatric bed registry and expand the time limit for emergency custody orders.

"I want people to remember the brilliant, friendly, loving kid that was Gus Deeds," his father said.

"We'll use Gus, I hope, to address mental health and to make sure that other people don't have to suffer through this."

Creigh Deeds: 'I am alive for a reason'

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

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