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Former NFL player kills 5 people, then himself, in South Carolina

A gunman killed five people, including a prominent doctor and his grandchildren in South Carolina on Wednesday, prompting an hours-long search that led to a suspect at a nearby house, authorities said. The shooter, identified as a former NFL player, died of what authorities believe to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said at a press conference on Thursday after -midday.

The authorities had not yet determined a motive. “There is nothing right now that doesn’t make sense to any of us,” Tolson told reporters.

Dr Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene of Rock Hill with their grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, the office said. of the York County Coroner.

A man who worked at the home, James Lewis, 38, of Gaston, was found shot outside, and a sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” the office spokesperson said York County Sheriff Trent Faris.

Former NFL player kills 5 people, then himself, in South Carolina
This March 12, 2009, a file photo shows Dr. Robert Lesslie in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

John D. Simmons / The Charlotte Observer via AP

Tolson said there was no indication that the shooter, Phillip Adams, had a doctor-patient relationship with Robert Lesslie. Previously, the Associated Press had reported that the shooter had been treated by the doctor, citing a source familiar with the investigation.

Tolson said evidence left at the scene of the shooting led them to the gunman. He said they went to his parents’ home, evacuated them and then tried to get the shooter out of the house. Eventually, they found him dead in a bedroom, Tolson said.

“We didn’t hear any shots,” Tolson said. “We tried to negotiate and get him out of the room he was in.”

In Washington, President Biden mentioned the shooting as he unveiled his first attempts to tackle gun violence in a ceremony at the White House. “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it is an international disgrace,” Biden said.

The 32-year-old shooter played 78 NFL games in five seasons for six teams. A South Carolina state safety and special teams player, he joined the 49ers in 2010 as a seventh-round draft pick.

Former NFL player kills 5 people, then himself, in South Carolina
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams (35) sits on the sidelines during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco on October 17, 2010.

Paul Sakuma / AP

Rarely a starter, the shooter was also with New England, Seattle, Oakland and the New York Jets, ending his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.

As a rookie at the end of the 2010 season, the shooter suffered a serious ankle injury that required surgery that included several screws inserted into the leg. He never played for the 49ers again, coming out just before the start of the 2011 season and signing with New England. He moved to the side of the Raiders, where he suffered two concussions in a three-game span in 2012.

It was not immediately clear whether the shooter suffered lasting injuries from his concussions as a player. The shooter would not have been eligible for testing as part of a broad settlement between the league and its former players for such injuries, as he had not retired in 2014.

The shooter’s father told a Charlotte TV station he blamed football for issues that could have led his son to commit the violence on Wednesday.

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

Faris said early Thursday that MPs were called around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Lesslies’ home and spent hours searching for the suspect before finding him at a nearby house.

“We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with him at the moment and that is all I can say about the suspect,” Faris said, adding that they had no reason to believe anyone one else was involved. “We are currently at his home and we are serving a search warrant.”

Former NFL player kills 5 people, then himself, in South Carolina
A York County Sheriff’s Deputy is parked outside a residence where several people, including a prominent doctor, were fatally shot a day earlier, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Nell Redmond / AP

Later Thursday, a few sheriff’s deputies were stationed near the Lesslie House, which is well beyond an arched stone gate, on a long cobbled driveway and not visible from the road. The Adams House, about a mile down the road, is a modest one-story brick house with several cars in the driveway.

Lesslie had worked for decades as an Emergency Physician in Rock Hill, Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and Occupational Medicine, and as the Emergency Department Medical Director for nearly 15 years at Rock General Hospital. Hill, according to his website.

He founded two emergency care centers in the area and wrote a weekly medical column for The Charlotte Observer. He also wrote a book, “Angels in the ER,” collecting what he called “inspiring true stories” from his time in the ER.

“I know without a doubt that life is fragile,” Lesslie wrote, according to an excerpt. “I came to understand that perhaps humility is the greatest virtue. And I’m convinced that we need to take the time to tell the people we care about deeply about our feelings.

Faris said Lesslie was very well known in the Rock Hill community.

“Dr. Lesslie was my doctor growing up,” Faris said. “Dr. Lesslie is one of those people that everyone knows. He founded Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and has been a Rock Hill staple for years.

A biography page said he and his wife raised four children and Lesslie graduated from South Carolina Medical University.

Rock Hill is a town in the far north of South Carolina, about 40 km southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina.


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