Former NFL player Phillip Adams has been identified as the alleged triggerman behind a South Carolina mass shooting that killed five people —including a doctor, his wife, and their grandchildren — before he took his own life.
“There's nothing right now that makes sense to any of us," York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson told the public at a Thursday news conference. He said that investigators have not yet determined a motive behind the shootings which killed Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara, 69, and their grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5. Their deaths were confirmed to Oxygen.com by a spokesperson for the York County Coroner’s Office on Thursday. All victims died of gunshot wounds.
The relatives were found dead at their Rock Hill home while a fifth victim, James Lewis, 38, was found shot to death outside. He and a surviving victim, who was not identified, were working on the house when the gunfire erupted. A caller from Gaston Sheet Metal Services in Gastonia stated in a 911 call that two of his technicians were shot. He said one was talking to him, screaming about being shot while Lewis was unresponsive.
The unnamed victim was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” according to investigators. As of Thursday, he was still in critical condition, WSOC-TV reports.
Adams, 32, later died at his parents' house by a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He died in a bedroom as investigators tried to talk him out of the house.
Dr. Robert Lesslie practiced medicine in Rock Hill for 40 years and was the founder and medical director of Riverview House Calls & Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care, according to the company's website.
"Dr. Lesslie was my doctor growing up." sheriff's spokesman Trent Faris said on Thursday at the presser. "Dr. Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows.”
Investigators are now struggling to determine a motive behind the slayings. Tolson said he could not confirm if there was a doctor-patient relationship involved.
"This is a tragic, tragic situation,” Faris told reporters on Thursday. “None of us can figure out why.”
Lewis was a father of three, WSOC-TV reports.
“I keep on expecting to wake up, ‘Oh, it was just a bad dream,’ but it’s not. It’s real,” the slain technician's father Tom Lewis said. “I would like to find out why this guy did what he did. I would like a lot more than that at times.”
Adams played as a defensive back for the NFL from 2010 to 2015. He played for the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons. He also played South Carolina State University before his NFL career, and his school’s biography page lists his hometown as Rock Hill.
He had two concussions over the course of three games in 2012.
"As Robert Lesslie would say, when peace like a river attendeth my way when sorrows like sea billows roll, it is well with my soul," a statement from the Lesslie family, obtained by Oxygen.com states, in part. If you would like to do something for the family, Adah and Noah would want you to stock the free pantries and libraries in your community. Barbara and Robert would want you to be good stewards of what you are given, leaving every place better than it was before you got there."
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