State Watch

Police name former NFL player as shooter in South Carolina attack

Authorities on Thursday identified former NFL player Phillip Adams as the person responsible for a shooting in South Carolina the previous day that left five people dead, including two children.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said at a news conference that the 33-year-old former football player was found dead shortly after midnight in his parents’ home with a single self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The sheriff told reporters that Adams had arrived at the home of a prominent doctor, 70-year-old Robert Lesslie, on Wednesday afternoon. Lesslie, along with his wife, 69-year-old Barbara Lesslie, and their two grandchildren were all found dead by police with gunshot wounds.

Authorities said that 38-year-old James Lewis, an air conditioning technician who was working at the home on Wednesday, was also found dead.

The sheriff said that Adams’s parents lived near the doctor’s home in Rock Hill, located near the North Carolina border about 25 miles southwest of Charlotte. 

A source with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that Adams had been treated by Lesslie, though the sheriff said Thursday that his office had not uncovered any evidence suggesting that the two had a medical relationship.

Authorities said they are continuing to investigate a motive for the attack and will update the public once more information is confirmed.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office had said earlier Thursday that authorities did not believe anyone else was involved in the shooting.

Adams, who played college football at South Carolina State before spending time on multiple NFL teams including the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons, suffered several injuries during his career, including concussions and a broken ankle, the AP reported.

Police said they recovered a .45-caliber weapon and 9 mm gun after Wednesday’s shootings. A source briefed on the investigation told the AP that Adams used a .45-caliber weapon to kill himself.

Trent Faris, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said Thursday that Lesslie, who had worked for decades as an emergency room doctor in Rock Hill, was well known in the community. 

“Dr. Lesslie was my doctor growing up,” Faris said. “Dr. Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows.”

Tolson also reflected on Lesslie’s impact in the community, noting that he had also been a patient of the doctor in the past. 

“Dr. Lesslie was a pillar in this community with what he was able to give back to this community,” the sheriff said. “He knew everyone, he treated everyone with respect.”

According to his website, Lesslie served as Rock Hill General Hospital’s emergency department medical director for nearly 15 years and launched two urgent care centers in the area.

Tolson at the beginning of Thursday’s news conference read a statement on behalf Lesslie’s family, in which they said that while they were suffering “unimaginable losses,” their “hearts are bent towards forgiveness.” 

“While we know there are no answers that will satisfy the question, ‘why?’ we are sure of one thing: we do not grieve as those without hope,” the family continued. “Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ.” 

Updated at 3:20 p.m.

Tags anti-gun violence North Carolina police investigation South Carolina Suspect The Associated Press
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