Former NFL Player Phillip Adams ID’d as South Carolina Gunman Who Killed Five, Then Himself

Adams, 32, last played NFL football for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015

Former NFL defensive back Phillip Adams
Former NFL defensive back Phillip Adams played for the Raiders and other teams.
Maddie Meyer/Getty

The gunman who killed himself early Thursday in South Carolina after taking the lives of five other people has been identified as former NFL cornerback Phillip Adams, according to an Associated Press source.

It is believed that Adams used a .45 caliber weapon to kill Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, along with their grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, at the doctor’s home in Rock Hill on Wednesday. A man who was working at the home, 38-year-old James Lewis, was found shot to death outside, the York County coroner’s office said. A sixth victim is in the hospital with “serious gunshot wounds.” All of the deaths are being investigated as homicides, and autopsy and toxicology reports are pending, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The former player’s parents live near the deceased doctor’s home, and the 32-year-old, who suffered multiple injuries in the NFL including concussions and a broken left ankle, had been treated by the doctor in the past. Police do not believe anyone else was involved in the incident.

“We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with him at this time and that’s all I can say about the suspect,” York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris said. “We are currently at his house and we are serving a search warrant.”

Drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Francisco out of South Carolina State University, Adams played parts of six seasons for the 49ers, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons. Rarely a starter, Adams played in 78 NFL games and finished his career in 2015.

Featured more prominently with the Raiders than with other clubs after joining the team as a special teams player, Adams suffered two concussions in three weeks at one point during the 2012 season before a groin injury ended his year.

Given the documented links between concussions, CTE and violence, it is certainly fair to wonder if Adams’s NFL career and history of head injuries had anything to do with him turning a gun on six people before using it on himself.

Well-known in the local community, Dr. Lesslie worked for decades as an emergency room doctor at Rock Hill General Hospital and founded two urgent care centers in the area, according to his website.

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

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