The former NFL pro Phillip Adams has been named as the suspect in a Wednesday shooting in York County, South Carolina, that left a family doctor, his wife, and two of their young grandchildren dead.
The York County Sheriff’s Office named the victims as Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara, who was 69. The two grandkids were Adah, 9, and Noah, 5. A fifth man who was working in the home at the time of shooting, 38-year-old James Lewis, was also killed. All five deaths have been ruled homicides by the York County Coroner’s Office, and a sixth person has been hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds.” The coroner’s office said Lesslie and his wife and their grandchildren also all died from gunshot wounds.
“Robert and Barbara were close friends of ours. To know the Lesslie family is to love them. Through the decades, they made such an incredible impact on our area and the lives of countless people—more than they could have ever known,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) said in a Thursday statement, before extending his condolences to the Lewis family. “It’s impossible to imagine the grief that the extended Lesslie family must be feeling, including and especially their adult children.”
Law enforcement confirmed early Thursday that a suspect was found in a nearby home but released no details about their identity, any possible motive, or whether they were found alive or dead. When asked if the unnamed suspect was a neighbor of the Lesslie family, York County Sheriff spokesman Trent Faris confirmed: “He lives on the same road.”
The Associated Press later named the suspect as Adams, and reported that he also killed himself. Adams, 32, played defensive back for many teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons. He suffered multiple injuries during his playing career, including concussions and a broken ankle.
Prior to his professional football career, Adams went to South Carolina State.
The spokesman went on to pay tribute to Dr. Lesslie, saying that he’s one of the local community’s most well-known people. “I’ve lived in Rock Hill my entire life and Dr. Lesslie was my doctor growing up,” said Faris. “[He’s] been one of those people that everybody knows. He started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill… It’s been a staple in Rock Hill for years.”
“Many people have asked questions. We certainly understand. There are still many questions to be answered. For now, we ask that you keep the Lesslie family and our office in your prayers,” Riverview Medical Center said in a Thursday statement.
On his website, Dr. Lesslie wrote that he and Barbara were married for more than 40 years and they had four children and six grandchildren together. “In my spare time, I enjoy writing, golf, hunting, growing fruit and hops, and bagpiping,” he wrote, while also recounting his decades of emergency-medicine experience in Rock Hill as well as North Carolina.
The doctor was also the author of eight books about real-life stories from the emergency room. In one, Angels in the ER, Dr. Lesslie wrote: “Twenty-five years in the ER have taught me a lot of things. I know without a doubt that life is fragile. I have come to understand that humility may be the greatest virtue. And I am convinced we need to take the time to say the things we deeply feel to the people we deeply care about.”
Faris confirmed an investigation is ongoing, and said his community has been left shocked by the shooting. The spokesman said: “It’s one of those strange things that a lot of people are going to have a hard time understanding… We just hope that everybody understands that we’re going to do everything we can to try to figure out why this happened here.”