A renowned emergency room doctor, his wife, their two grandchildren, ages 9 and 5, and a family employee died Wednesday afternoon in a shooting occurred in a house near the town of Rock Hill, in York County, South Carolina.
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson reported Thursday afternoon that the suspect in the shooting is a former National Football League (NFL) player. Phillip Adams, who committed suicide in the early hours of Thursday after committing the crime.
“None of this makes sense to any of us“said the bailiff.
Tolson said that around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, officers responded to two telephone reports of shooting at a home at 4400 Marshall Road. During the press conference, the bailiff reproduced to journalists the calls received by 911.
Eight minutes after receiving the complaints, the agents arrived at the residence and found 70-year-old Dr. Robert Lesslie with fatal gunshot wounds; his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69; and her grandchildren, ages 9 and 5. James Lewis, 38, an air conditioning technician working for the family at the time, was also shot. They all died at the scene.
Tolson said .45 and 9mm guns were used in Wednesday’s shooting.
He added that Adams’ motive for the crime is unknown. Nor is it known what relationship existed between the suspect and the victims. So far there are no indications that a doctor-patient relationship existed.
A person with information about the investigation told the news agency The Associated Press earlier Thursday that Adams had been a patient of Lesslie, who lived near his parents’ home in Rock Hill. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make a statement. However, the authorities have not confirmed this report.
The bailiff added that they recovered crime scene evidence linking Adams with the shooting, so investigators went in search of the former player, who lived with his parents near the doctor’s house.
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After police tried to convince Adams to leave the home and turn himself in to authorities, he was found dead in a bedroom at the residence after shooting himself in the head, the sheriff said.
A sixth person was injured in the shooting, which authorities say is in critical condition.
Authorities had earlier reported that the suspect in the shooting had been identified after an arduous pursuit of several hours. “We have identified the person we believe is responsible for the shooting,” said Trent Faris, a spokesman for the office of the sheriff.
Dr. Lesslie and his family were “very prominent and well known” in the county, Faris said, adding that he has lived his entire life in the area and that Lesslie was his “childhood doctor.”
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“The doctor was one of those people that everyone knew. He created Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and has been an essential person in Rock Hill for years,” Faris said.
Lesslie worked and managed various Charlotte emergency rooms for more than 25 years. He was also the medical director of the emergency department for nearly 15 years at Rock Hill General Hospital, according to his profile on the professional network LinkedIn.
“My wife Barbara and I we have been married for 40 years. We have raised four children and now we have 6 grandchildren, ”says the doctor’s biography on that platform.
Phillip Adams, 32, played 78 games for the NFL over five seasons, and was on six different teams.
As a rookie at the end of the 2010 season, he suffered a serious ankle injury that required surgery. Later, in 2012, suffered two concussions while playing games. It is unclear if he sustained any prolonged injuries related to any of these concussions.
Adams’ father told a Charlotte television station that he blamed football for his son’s problems and that it could have led to the violence on Wednesday.
“I can say he’s a good kid, he was a good kid, and I think soccer ruined him,” Alonzo Adams told local WCNC-TV.
With information from NBC News and The Associated Press