April 19, 2021

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Report: Former NFL player Phillip Adams named as suspect in deadly South Carolina shooting

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The gunman who shot down five people at a South Carolina home is former NFL player Phillip Adams, who killed himself early Thursday, a source told the Associated Press.

A well-known doctor, his wife and their two young grandchildren were among those found Wednesday evening at the home in Rock Hill. They died as a result of gunshot wounds, according to the York County Sheriff’s Office.

Adams’ parents live near the doctor’s home, and he has been treated by the doctor in the past, according to AP’s source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The source said Adams, 33, then later killed himself.

The incident was the latest mass shooting to rock the nation in recent weeks, including 10 people slain in Boulder, Colorado, eight in the Atlanta area and four in Orange, California.  

Read more:What we know about Phillip Adams 

A York County sheriff's deputy is parked outside a residence where multiple people, including a prominent doctor, were fatally shot a day earlier, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Rock Hill, S.C. A source briefed on the mass killing said the gunman was former NFL player Phillip Adams, who shot himself to death early Thursday.

South Carolina police have not yet publicly named the gunman but said officers identified the suspect in a nearby house after an hours-long search Wednesday night. The York County Sheriff’s Office has scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. ET.

Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, Barbara Lesslie, 69, and their grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the York County coroner’s office. James Lewis, 38, was found dead outside. Lewis was working at the home at the time, police said.

A sixth person was injured and taken to a local hospital for serious gunshot wounds, said Trent Faris, York County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, in a press conference.

Deputies were called around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday to the Lesslies’ home, which is up a driveway from an arched stone gate and not visible from the road. They evacuated the neighbors as they searched for a suspect with police dogs.

Allison Hope, who lives across from the Adams’ modest one-story brick home, about a mile from the Lesslies, said police allowed her to return home around 9 p.m. Wednesday. Moments later, a vehicle pulled into their driveway and law enforcement quickly surrounded the property.

She said law enforcers spent hours negotiating with Adams, using a loudspeaker and sending in a robot to scan the house. She said authorities repeatedly asked Adams to come out, and promised to get his disabled mother out safely, before Adams shot himself.

“This is something I can’t grasp yet. I can’t put it all together and I’m trying to, and I witnessed it,” Hope said. “I feel bad for him because if it was mental or something going on in his life or whatever, you know, he needed help, and that’s the sad part.”

This March 12, 2009 file photo shows Dr. Robert Lesslie in Rock Hill, S.C. Authorities say a gunman, identified as former NFL player Phillip Adams, killed Lesslie, his wife and grandchildren on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 in Rock Hill. Adams killed himself early Thursday according to a source who was briefed on the investigation.

Faris said officers were called to the scene around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. He said  Robert Lesslie was his own doctor growing up.

“Dr. Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows,” he said. “He started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and it has been a staple in Rock Hill for years.”

He and his wife have four children and eight grandchildren, according to a website bio. They lived in Rock Hill, South Carolina, with their golden retriever, several miniature horses, goats, donkeys and chickens. He enjoyed golfing and bagpiping.

Lesslie practiced in the area since 1981. He worked in emergency rooms for decades, including as medical director of the emergency department at Rock Hill General Hospital for almost 15 years, according to a website bio.

Lesslie also founded two urgent care centers in the area and was also an author and columnist. His 2008 book, “Angels in the ER,” told the stories of ER patients and staff, and for seven years, Lesslie wrote a weekly medical column for the Charlotte Observer.

“It doesn’t happen here,” Faris said at the press conference. “It’s one of those strange things that a lot of people are going to have a hard time understanding.”

Adams spent six seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons, before his career ended in 2015.

As a rookie in 2010, Adams suffered a severe ankle injury that required surgery, and later, in 2012, he had two concussions in a three-game period.

Adams’ father told a Charlotte television station that he blamed football for problems that may have led his son to commit Wednesday’s violence.

“I can say he’s a good kid,” Alonzo Adams told WCNC-TV. “I think the football messed him up.”

Adams often isolated himself, even as a player, his agent, Scott Casterline, told the AP. Casterline said he spoke regularly with Adams’ father, who left him a voicemail Wednesday morning.

“He was part of my family. I loved him. He’s a great kid, a great guy. This is so unlike him. He had to not be in his right mind, obviously,” Casterline said.

“All of us who knew Philip are shaking our heads. He struggled away from the game. I tried to get him to come to Texas. I was going to find him a job, but he wouldn’t leave South Carolina because he had a son. He was a good father.

“Seeing Philip shoot two kids, it’s not him. I can’t fathom it. It’s devastating for the victims and the families,” Casterline said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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