Former NFL football player Phillip Adams has been identified as the gunman in a horrific mass shooting incident that took the lives of six people, including Adams himself, early Thursday in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
According to the York County Sheriff’s Office, on Wednesday, deputies found five people shot to death at a home in the South Carolina city. They eventually found Adams, the alleged suspect, in his home next door; he died by suicide just after midnight on Thursday morning following a stand-off with police.
The tragic incident began on Wednesday at the home of Dr. Robert Lesslie, a prominent physician in the South Carolina city. According to the York County Coroner’s Office, the 70-year-old man and his wife, Barbara, 69, were found shot to death in their home along with their grandchildren — 9-year-old Adah Lesslie, and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie.
A man who had been working at the home at the time — 38-year-old James Lewis — was also found shot to death outside the house. And according to authorities, a sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds” as well, according to York County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Trent Faris (pictured in the inset, above).
Police immediately began a manhunt after discovering the bodies, and after several hours, they surrounded Adams’ property on the same block as the Lesslie house. According to a neighbor who witnessed the police presence, officers engaged Adams for several hours and even negotiated getting his disabled mother out of the house safely, but after midnight, the former football star shot himself.
Adams’ former NFL agent, Scott Casterline, spoke to the AP about the tragedy and Adams’ background, saying (below):
“He was part of my family. I loved him. He’s a great kid, a great guy. This is so unlike him. He had to not be in his right mind, obviously. All of us who knew Philip are shaking our heads. He struggled away from the game. I tried to get him to come to Texas. I was going to find him a job, but he wouldn’t leave South Carolina because he had a son. He was a good father. Seeing Philip shoot two kids, it’s not him. I can’t fathom it. It’s devastating for the victims and the families.”
Neighbor Allison Hope also tried to wrap her head around the unfathomable violence, telling local media outlets:
“This is something I can’t grasp yet. I can’t put it all together and I’m trying to, and I witnessed it. I feel bad for him because if it was mental or something going on in his life or whatever, you know, he needed help, and that’s the sad part.”
Adams had been living back in his hometown of Rock Hill in his post-playing days. He attended Rock Hill High School and then starred at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, before becoming a seventh round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2010.
Over five seasons, Adams played in 78 NFL games for six teams, including the 49ers, as well as the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, the Oakland Raiders, the New York Jets, and the Atlanta Falcons. He finished his career after the 2015 season.
Dr. Lesslie was one of the most well-known doctors practicing medicine in the across-the-border suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. According to Fox 46 Charlotte, he founded two urgent care centers, wrote a weekly medical column in the Charlotte Observer, and wrote a book called Angels In The ER about “inspiring true stories” from his practice.
Here’s more on the unfathomable violence:
Ugh. Such a terrible, terrible tragedy…
Our thoughts are with all the family, friends, loved ones, and others close to all the victims of this horrible incident.
[Image via Fox 46 Charlotte/YouTube]