Former NFL defensive back Phillip Adams shot and killed five people on Wednesday afternoon in Rock Hill, S.C., before turning a gun on himself and committing suicide early this morning, this according to the Associated Press, who cited a source familiar with the investigation.
The victims include: Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70; his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69; as well as grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5. Another individual, James Lewis, 38, was shot outside the Lesslie’s home, and a sixth person has been hospitalized with what the York County Sheriff’s Office characterized as “serious gunshot wounds.”
“We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with him at this time and that’s all I can say about the suspect,” added York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris.
The Sheriff’s Office has not publicly confirmed that Adams was the gunman in the shootings. But Adams’ father, Alonzo, told WCNC-TV in Charlotte that his son is the suspect and that his son was found dead after a standoff with police. The station is also reporting that Lewis and the unidentified individual who remains hospitalized were employees of GSM Services, an HVAC company based in Gastonia, N.C. The pair were reportedly working at the Lesslie home at the time of the shooting.
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Phillip Adams Played in the NFL for Six Seasons
Adams came into the NFL in 2010 as a seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers out of South Carolina State. He played in 15 games for the 49ers during his rookie year, but suffered a severe ankle injury late in the season, one that required surgery. He went on to sign with the New England Patriots the next year and also spent time in 2011 with the Seattle Seahawks.
After that he spent two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, before playing for the New York Jets in 2014 and finishing his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.
Despite starting just three games for the Falcons he had arguably the most impactful season of his NFL career in Atlanta, responsible for 38 tackles (32 solo), plus an interception and four passes defensed. He was also one of five Falcons players who met with members of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in July 2015, a month after a mass shooting at the church took the lives of nine people.
Over the course of his career he started 11 of the 78 games in which he appeared, responsible for 128 tackles (108 solo), with five interceptions, one forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries.
At one point during his time with the Raiders, he suffered two concussions in a three-game period. It’s not clear whether concussions or other football injuries played a role in Wednesday’s violence.
But Alonzo Adams told WCNC-TV 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, he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up,” said Adams.
Victim Robert Lesslie was a Prominent Local Physician
Dr. Lesslie was a well-known figure in the Rock Hill community, having worked for decades as an emergency room physician, board-certified in both emergency medicine and occupational medicine. He also served as emergency department medical director for nearly 15 years at Rock Hill General Hospital and co-owned a pair of urgent care clinics.
His biography page also indicates that he and his wife raised four children and had five grandchildren.
Rock Hill is located in north-central South Carolina approximately 25 miles southwest of Charlotte.
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