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Brain test approved for ex-NFL player who committed suicide after SC mass shooting

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – The brain of Phillip Adams – the former NFL player who killed a South Carolina doctor, three family members and a repairman before shooting himself to death – will be tested for degenerative disease which has affected a number of professional athletes and has been shown to cause violent mood swings and other cognitive impairment, according to the local coroner.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said in a statement Friday that she had obtained approval from Adams’ family to have the procedure included as part of her autopsy, which will be performed at the University. South Carolina Medical Center. The hospital will work with Boston University, whose Center for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is researching the long-term effects of repetitive brain injury in athletes and military personnel, according to its website.

According to police, Adams went to the home of Robert and Barbara Lesslie on Wednesday and shot and killed them, two of their grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9 and Noah Lesslie, 5, and James Lewis, a 38- One year old Gaston air conditioning technician who worked there. He also shot Lewis’ colleague Robert Shook, 38, of Cherryville, North Carolina, who was airlifted to a hospital in Charlotte, where he was in critical condition “fighting hard for his life.” said cousin Heather Smith Thompson.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said investigators did not understand why Adams carried out the attack.

Tolson said evidence left at the scene of the shooting led investigators to view Adams as a suspect. He said they went to Adams ‘parents’ home, evacuated them and then tried to persuade Adams to come out. Eventually, they found him dead from a single gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom, he said.

A person briefed on the investigation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly said Robert Lesslie treated Adams, who lived with his parents nearby from the home of the Lesslies.

Tolson has not confirmed that Adams was the doctor’s patient.

It will be months before results from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, tests are available, which can only be diagnosed at an autopsy. The disorder has been found in former members of the military, football players and boxers and others who have suffered repeated head injuries. A recent study found signs of the disease in 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains had been inspected.

Several years ago, the league agreed to pay out $ 1 billion to retired players who claimed to have misled them about the dangers of playing football.

Adams, 32, played 78 NFL games in six seasons for six teams. He joined the 49ers in 2010 as a seventh-round pick in the South Carolina State Draft, and although he rarely started, he continued to play for New England, Seattle, Oakland and the New York Jets before ending his career with the Atlanta Falcons. in 2015.

As a rookie at the end of the 2010 season, Adams suffered a serious ankle injury, which resulted in surgery that included several screws inserted into his leg. He never played for the 49ers again, released just before the start of the 2011 season. Later, with the Raiders, he had two concussions in three games in 2012.

It was not immediately clear whether he had sustained any long-lasting concussion-related injuries. Adams would not have been eligible for testing as part of a broad settlement between the league and his former players for such injuries because he had not retired in 2014.

Adams’ father told a Charlotte TV station he blamed football for the problems his son was having, which could have led him to commit the violence on Wednesday.

“I can say he’s a good boy – he was a good boy, and I think football ruined him,” Alonzo Adams told WCNC-TV. “He didn’t talk much and he didn’t bother anyone.

Adams’s sister told USA Today that “her brother’s mental health has deteriorated rapidly and terribly” in recent years and that the family has noticed “extremely concerning” signs of mental illness, including a rise in mental illness. mood and a lack of personal hygiene.

In a statement to the McClatchy Newspapers, Adams’s parents and siblings sent their condolences to the Lesslie, Lewis and Shook families, saying: “The Phillip we know is not a man capable of the atrocities he committed on Wednesday. “

Relatives went on to say that they did not know “if football played a role” in the violence, but “we know there must be a catalyst”.

Gerald Dixon, a former NFL linebacker who retired in 2001, said that when he coached Adams in high school the young player was a team leader, but also gentle and humble.

Dixon added that he spoke to Adams a few months ago and hadn’t noticed any signs of depression or other mental health issues. “Whenever I spoke to him, he was always happy and remembered old things,” he said.

Dixon acknowledged that the repeated blows to the head suffered in the game could have affected Adams, as they negatively affected many other NFL players Dixon knew who were subsequently diagnosed with CTE.

“You never know what’s going on in a person’s mind after suffering these concussions,” Dixon said.

Agent Scott Casterline told The Associated Press Adams did not participate in readily available physical and mental health programs for former players.

“We encouraged him to explore all of his disability options and he wouldn’t,” Casterline said, noting that Adams’ career had been hampered by the ankle injury of 2010. “I knew he was was in pain and missing football, but he would not take the health advice offered to him. He said he would, but he wouldn’t.

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