A mass shooting took place in Rock Hill, South Carolina on Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, a prominent doctor in the area, was found dead in his home along with his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, and their two grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5. A fifth victim was pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities.
A source told the Associated Press that the shooter has been identified as former NFL player Phillip Adams, who took his own life just after midnight on Thursday.
A Tragic Situation
The police said they were called to Dr. Lesslie’s home in Rock Hill around 4:45 PM local time. The York County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Twitter, “Sadly, 5 people have died as a result of the shooting. Dr. Robert Lesslie & his wife, Barbara Lesslie were both found in the home & died as a result of gunshot wounds, as well as their 2 grandchildren. James Lewis of Gastonia, was working at the home & died from gunshot wounds.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris says a sixth person was found on the scene with “serious gunshot wounds.” They are in the hospital, but their name and condition haven’t been released to the public.
“This is a tragic, tragic situation…None of us can figure out why,” Faris told a group of reporters during a recent press conference.
Dr. Lesslie founded Riverview House Calls and Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care in Rock Hill, SC and has been practicing in the area since 1981. According to the bio on his website, he’s also the author of several books, including Ask the Family Doctor, Angels On Call, 60 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol, and 2008’s Angels in the ER, a memoir about his time working in the emergency room.
During the press conference, Faris even mentioned that Dr. Lesslie was his doctor growing up.
“Dr. Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows. He started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and it has been a staple in Rock Hill for years. If you are from Rock Hill and you are from around this area, the people who are involved are very prominent and very well known in York County,” Faris added.
The shooting has put the community on edge. As Faris put it, “It doesn’t happen here. It’s one of those strange things that a lot of people are going to have a hard time understanding.”
Closing in on the Suspect
The authorities began closing in on the suspect shortly after arriving on the scene. They received a tip that the shooter may be nearby. After several hours of searching, they found the individual in a house on the same road where the Lesslies lived.
While the police have yet to officially release the identity of the suspect, a source has confirmed to the Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that the suspect is former NFL player Phillip Adams.
According to real estate listings, Adams’ parents have a house on the same block as Dr. Lesslie. The source confirmed that Adams had been treated by the doctor in the past, but there’s no word on a potential motive.
Adams played in the NFL for six years across five teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons. He eventually left the game in 2015 after playing 78 games over the course of his career.
The authorities believe the suspect committed suicide just after midnight on Thursday with a .45 caliber weapon.
It’s not clear if Adams suffered from a concussion or other related injuries during his career as a professional athlete. Studies have found that repeated blows to the head can lead to depression, anxiety, aggression, personality changes, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and other brain disorders.
The NFL recently announced a major settlement with its former players over these types of injuries. However, the settlement only applies to players who retired by 2014 or earlier. Because Adams left the NFL in 2015, he didn’t qualify for benefits.
The investigation is still ongoing.