Tragedy unfolded in Rock Hill, South Carolina on Wednesday when a prominent local doctor, his wife, and two of their grandchildren were all shot and killed inside their home.
A source told the Associated Press that the shooter was 32-year-old former NFL defensive back and Rock Hill native Phillip Adams, who fatally shot himself shortly after midnight Thursday with police surrounding his house. At Thursday’s press briefing, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson played audio of a 911 caller saying he heard “about 20” shots fired at the Lesslie residence.
The York County coroner’s office said that Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his wife Barbara Leslie, 69, as well as grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, were all pronounced dead at the scene. A fifth person, 38-year-old James Lewis, was working on the home at the time that he was shot to death, and an unidentified sixth person was also shot but is currently hospitalized.
Dr. Lesslie had practiced in Rock Hill since 1981 and worked primarily in ERs throughout the Charlotte area. He also founded the Riverview Medical Center, was a frequent columnist for The Charlotte Observer and authored the book “Angels in the ER,” which looked back on “inspiring true stories” from his work.
Adams was originally drafted in the seventh-round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. He played six seasons in the NFL, including one game with the Seattle Seahawks, appearing in Week 16 against the 49ers in the 2011 season. After two years with the Raiders he was re-signed by Seattle in March 2014 but was released before the regular season, so technically he was on the 53-man active roster just once. He spent his final two years in the NFL with the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons.
A possible motive is unknown at the moment, but reportedly Phillip was a past patient of Dr. Lesslie. Phillip’s father, Alonzo Adams, told a local television crew his belief that football had a negative impact on his son’s life.
“I can say he’s a good kid, he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up,” Alonzo Adams told WCNC-TV. “He didn’t talk much and he didn’t bother nobody.”
This is, sadly, the second time this week that an ex-NFL player has been suspected of murder. Former New York Giants wide receiver Travis Rudolph was arrested and charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder in Florida. He is currently being held in a Palm Beach County jail.