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Phillip Adams, former NFL player, suspected of shooting with 5 dead

(CNN) — A shocked South Carolina community was grieving and seeking answers Thursday after authorities said a beloved doctor and four others were shot and killed by a man who had transitioned from a local high school to college to the NFL. .

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said 32-year-old Phillip Adams shot two air conditioning technicians outside, killing one, and then forcibly entered Dr. Robert’s home. Lesslie in Rock Hill.

Lesslie, his wife, Barbara Lesslie, and two grandchildren, ages 5 and 9, were found shot to death in a back room.

Air conditioning technician James Lewis, of Gastonia, North Carolina, was found dead outside.

Phillip Adams

Phillip Adams was a player for the San Francisco 49ers in 2010.

The surviving technician, Robert Shook, has already come out of surgery, according to a Facebook post from his daughter Thursday night. His father is in intensive care with a ventilator, he wrote.

He said he was able to see it and that he has “a very long road ahead of him.”

Adams was later found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the bedroom of a house he shared with his parents about a kilometer away.

Tolson said it was unclear why Phillip Adams brought two guns to Lesslie’s property in Rock Hill, a city of 74,000 residents just across the border from Charlotte, North Carolina.

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

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A statement from the doctor’s four children said the family is dealing with an unimaginable loss.

“While we know that there are no answers to satisfy the ‘why’ question, we are sure of one thing: we do not grieve like those without hope. Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ, and we are enveloped by peace that passes all understanding, “the statement said.

Lesslie was a “pillar in the community,” Tolson said of the doctor, who served as a supervising physician and medical director for Winthrop University, and founded a hospice and home health service.

“He treated me in the past at his clinic … he knew everyone, he treated everyone with respect,” Tolson recalls.

Winthrop University President George Hynd said Lesslie’s contributions to the school were wide-ranging.

“Students, in particular, have long benefited from referrals to their practice when additional care was needed beyond our reach,” Hynd said in a statement. “Personally, I will be forever grateful to him for the advice he provided to our covid-19 response team when we opened campus last fall for residential living and learning.”

Many questions, few answers

Investigators still don’t know what triggered the shooting, although they believe Phillip Adams was the only assailant, Tolson said.

“We probably have more questions than you do about this case,” the sheriff told reporters Thursday.

Something Phillip Adams left at the home led investigators to believe he was the gunman, and they went to the nearby Adams family home, Tolson said.

Officers removed the parents from the home and attempted to contact Phillip Adams. They eventually found him dead, Tolson said, though they didn’t hear gunshots.

Adams died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said.

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When asked if Adams, who played in the NFL from 2010 to 2015, was a patient of the doctor, Tolson said, “We haven’t been able to verify that.”

South Carolina shooting

Dr. Robert Lesslie at Rock Hill in 2009.

Phillip Adams played for various NFL teams

A South Carolina state official confirmed to CNN Thursday that Adams played in the NFL.

Adams played defensive back from 2010 to 2015 for teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons.

He had five interceptions and 121 tackles in 78 games, according to He also returned 37 punts while with the Raiders and 49ers.

Phillip Adams’ father, Alonzo Adams, told Charlotte WCNC television station Thursday morning that Lesslie used to be his doctor years ago. He said his son was a calm and good boy, but he thought football had taken its toll on him.

Phillip Adams played at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg prior to his NFL days. He went to Rock Hill High School in his hometown, according to an SCSU athletic media guide.

The shooting in South Carolina

Authorities were called around 4:45 p.m. at the Lesslys’ home, south of Rock Hill, Tolson said.

Tolson placed two 911 calls to reporters at a news conference Thursday. In one, the employer of the air conditioning technicians tells a 911 operator that an injured worker had just called him about the shooting.

“(The worker was) yelling that he had been shot and that the other technician … had been shot and did not respond,” the person calling the 911 operator tells him.

On the other call, a man tells an operator that he was mowing a lawn when he heard popping noises.

He says he went to Lesslie’s property and from a distance saw a man lying on the ground and that’s when he realized he had heard gunshots.

The caller says he saw a man dressed in black come out of the house.

While the witness said he may have heard about 20 shots, the sheriff only confirmed that there were “multiple shots.”

The doctor had been practicing in the area since 1981

The Governor, Henry McMaster, tweeted his condolences to the victims.

Tragic and heartbreaking news from Rock Hill this morning. Please join me and @ 1stLadySC in lifting up the Lesslie family in prayer during this difficult time, ”the tweet read.

Trent Faris, the spokesman for the York County Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday that he knew Lesslie and that “Dr. Lesslie was my doctor growing up.”

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

“If you are from Rock Hill and this area, the people involved are very prominent and well known in York County,” Faris said.

Lesslie was the founder of Riverview House Calls and Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care, according to the joint services website, and had been practicing in Rock Hill since 1981. On a personal biography page, Lesslie says that he and his wife had been married for 40 years, raised four children and had nine grandchildren.

“In my spare time, I enjoy writing, golfing, hunting, growing fruit and hops, and hunting bags,” says the biography page.

Her website lists several books she authored, including 2008 “Angels in the ER,” a book about faith in God and the work of nurses, doctors, and others under difficult circumstances during their years of working in a ward. of emergencies.

“I have been both an observer of the human condition and a physician. There is no better place to be an observer than the emergency room, “he told The Herald of Rock Hill on the book in 2008. “You find out what people are like. Everyone has something to teach us. I wanted to do this from a spiritual perspective. Once it was clear to me, it was written alone.

CNN’s Kay Jones, Christina Maxouris, Joe Sutton, Devon Sayers, and Justin Lear contributed to this report.

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