Former NFL player killed five people before turning gun on himself, police say

Francis Akhalbey April 09, 2021
Authorities say former NFL player Phillip Adams fatally shot five people before turning the gun on himself -- Photo Credit: NFL via Getty Images

Authorities in York County, South Carolina, say former NFL player Phillip Adams fatally shot a well-known local doctor and four other people, including two minors, on Wednesday before turning the gun on himself.

According to The Associated Press, the victims include Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his 69-year-old wife, Barbara; their two grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, and 38-year-old James Lewis. A sixth person who was also shot, Robert Shook, is in critical condition at a Charlotte hospital. Lewis and Shook were working at the couple’s Rock Hill home at the time of the incident.

“There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said at a news conference on Thursday.

During the press briefing, a recording of two 911 calls that came in following the fatal shooting was played. The first call reportedly came from the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) company Lewis and Shook worked for. The caller told the dispatcher one of the men called to report he and his colleague had been shot and the latter was “unresponsive.” The second call was from a resident who said he had heard multiple gunshots coming from the deceased couple’s home and had seen someone exit the house afterward. “I think there’s been a bad shooting,” the caller said.

Tolson said after they were able to establish Adams as the shooter, they traced him to his parents’ home on Thursday. Though they successfully got the suspect’s parents out of danger and out of the home, they were unable to get Adams to surrender as he shot himself in the head.

And though authorities say they are yet to establish the motive behind the mass shooting, an anonymous person who spoke to The Associated Press said Adams was a previous patient of Lesslie. The deceased health worker was an experienced emergency room doctor and served as the emergency department medical director at Rock Hill General Hospital for over a decade.

Adams was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2010 NFL Draft. The 32-year-old, who spent more than six seasons in the league, went ahead to have stints with teams including the New York Jets, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons. He retired in 2015. During his time with the Raiders in 2012, Adams reportedly suffered two concussions in the space of three games. It is unclear if Adams suffered from the effects of concussion.

Following the mass shooting, however, Adams’ father told WCNC-TV football took a toll on his son, adding that it could have been a factor in the shooting. “I can say he’s a good kid — he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up,” Alonzo Adams said.

His sister also told USA TODAY he had mental health issues and his condition had aggravated over the last few years. “His mental health degraded fast and terribly bad,’’ Lauren Adams said.

“There was unusual behavior. I’m not going to get into all that (symptoms). We definitely did notice signs of mental illness that was extremely concerning, that was not like we had ever seen. …

“He wasn’t a monster. He was struggling with his mental health.”

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: April 9, 2021


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