Suspect in mass shooting that killed 5 in South Carolina played in NFL

Police said the suspect, Phillip Adams, was found dead at a nearby house.

April 09, 2021, 6:13 PM

Five people are dead, including a doctor and two of his grandchildren, following a shooting at a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Wednesday afternoon, according to the York County Sheriff's Office.

The suspect, 32-year-old Phillip Adams, was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at a nearby home, the York County Sheriff's Office said.

Adams, a Rock Hill native, was a former NFL player, according to ESPN. He was drafted by San Francisco in the seventh round out of South Carolina State in 2010 and played as a reserve defensive back for five teams in six years from 2010 to 2015.

The victims were identified as Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70; his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69; their grandchildren, 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie; and James Lewis, 39, who was working at the home at the time he was shot, authorities said.

PHOTO: Oakland Raiders cornerback Phillip Adams carries the ball on a 30-yard punt return against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Oakland, Calif., Sept. 15, 2013.
Oakland Raiders cornerback Phillip Adams carries the ball on a 30-yard punt return against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Oakland, Calif., Sept. 15, 2013.
Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports/via Reuters

A sixth person was also shot and survived, officials said.

Adams will be tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as CTE, a degenerative brain disease found in those with a history of repetitive brain trauma, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

"We have contacted Boston University and they will be working with us to conduct a brain study to identify if Mr. Adams had CTE," the office said in a statement Friday evening, noting that routine forensic autopsies do not identify the disease. "We are unsure of the time frame for results at this time."

Lewis and the surviving victim -- who was in critical condition following the shooting -- were air conditioning techs with the company GSM Services and were found shot beside their work vans, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said.

Lewis leaves behind a daughter and two sons, according to a GoFundMe.

GSM Services identified the surviving victim as Robert Shook, a father of three and "long-time devoted technician." In a statement Friday afternoon, the company said they feeling "guarded" about Shook's fluctuating condition.

PHOTO: Noah Lesslie and Adah Leslie with their surviving parents Katie and Jeff Lesslie. Jeff is the son of Robert and Barbara Lesslie.
Noah Lesslie and Adah Lesslie with their surviving parents Katie and Jeff Lesslie. Jeff is the son of Robert and Barbara Lesslie.
Courtesy Lesslie family

Robert Lesslie was a well-known doctor in Rock Hill, ABC Charlotte affiliate WSOC reported. He spent many years working in emergency rooms in the Charlotte area, according to his website biography.

The sheriff said, "Dr. Lesslie was a pillar in this community."

"He had treated me in the past," he said.

Robert Lesslie and his wife had four children and five grandchildren, his website biography said.

PHOTO: Robert and Barbara Lesslie in a photo posted to Robert Lesslie's website.
Robert and Barbara Lesslie in a photo posted to Robert Lesslie's website.
robertlesslie.com

The Lesslie family said in a statement, "We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable. The losses we are suffering cannot be uttered at this time."

The family said, "If you would like to do something for the family, Adah and Noah would want you to stock the free pantries and libraries in your community. Barbara and Robert would want you to be good stewards of what you are given, leaving every place better than it was before you got there."

All the deaths are being investigated as homicides, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

The York County Coroner’s Office said Adams was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a nearby home on the same road as the Lesslies, following a standoff.

"We did recover evidence at the scene that linked Mr. Adams to that area definitively," Tolson said at a news conference Thursday.

PHOTO: A suspect was found in the York County mass shooting the night of April 7, 2021 that left five people dead, according to authorities.
A suspect was found in the York County mass shooting the night of April 7, 2021 that left five people dead, according to authorities.
WSOC

A motive has not been determined, Tolson said.

"There is nothing about this right now that makes sense to any of us," the sheriff said.

Rock Hill is about 26 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina.

PHOTO: James Lewis, who was killed at the shooting at the Lesslie home in South Carolina, is shown in an undated family photo.
James Lewis, who was killed at the shooting at the Lesslie home in South Carolina, is shown in an undated family photo.
Courtesy of the Lewis Family

South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman said Robert and Barbara Lesslie were his close friends.

"Through the decades, they made such an incredible impact on our area and the lives of countless people," Norman said in a statement.

"It is impossible to imagine the grief that the extended Lesslie family must be feeling," he said. "I also want to send my sincere condolences to the family of James Lewis."

PHOTO: In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams sits on the sideline during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco.
In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams sits on the sideline during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco.
Paul Sakuma/AP, FILE

Joel and Steven Long, co-owners of GSM Services, said in a statement, "Our team at GSM Services is heart broken."

"Both men involved in this incident are long-standing, beloved members of our family at GSM. These men embody the values we strive to achieve at GSM and are family focused, up-beat, and wonderful team members who cared about all the people they encountered," the Longs said. "In the coming days, our focus is on helping these families and our team members cope with this tragedy."

The NFL said in a statement, "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims of these devastating tragedies."

ABC News' Rachel Katz, Alexandra Faul, Meredith Deliso and Alondra Valle contributed to this report.

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