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8 Apr, 2021 15:20

Ex-NFL star Phillip Adams kills five then himself in South Carolina shooting spree

Ex-NFL star Phillip Adams kills five then himself in South Carolina shooting spree

Ex-NFL star Phillip Adams killed five people, including a doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren, before turning the gun on himself on Wednesday in a shooting spree at a South Carolina home, according to reports in the US.

Adams, 32, who spent time on the rosters of the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and others in a five-year stint in the NFL, is understood to have opened fire in a house in the Rock Hill area of South Carolina, around 25 miles outside of Charlotte.

Reports have named Adams' victims as Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his wife Barbara Lesslie, who was 69, along with two of their grandchildren aged 9 and 5. 

A fifth person, James Lewis, 38, also died at the scene. It is understood that he was a worker employed by the Lesslies who was present during the violent episode. 

A sixth victim was transported to hospital for treatment to what was described as a "serious" gunshot wound.

Adams died by suicide after killing himself with a .45-caliber weapon, reported the Associated Press. The York County Sheriff’s Office said they had found the suspect in a nearby home after a search.


Adams played defensive back for several teams since he was drafted into the NFL by the 49ers in 2010 after a standout collegiate career with South Carolina State. However, his time in the league was cut short owing to a series of injuries including a badly broken left ankle and numerous concussion issues.

Adams' father, meanwhile, told TMZ Sports that his son was a "good kid" but "football messed him up". He added that he was keeping the victims of the mass shooting in his prayers.

"We are all shocked this could happen here in York County," said police spokesperson Trent Farris.

"This is a mass shooting. Normally you think of a movie theater or a mall, but we are treating this as a mass shooting because there were five victims killed," added Farris, who said that Lesslie was his own personal doctor. 

"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," he concluded.

According to TMZ, Adams was linked to the doctor after reportedly being treated in his care in the past, while both of Adams' parents are known to reside in the area.

A biography of Dr. Lesslie visible online says that he had been married to his wife for 35 years, with whom he had raised four children. He had practiced medicine in Rock Hill since 1981, it stated.

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He had previously written a book entitled 'Angels in the ER' about his time spent in the emergency services. He was also the founder and director of Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care.

"He was an old-fashioned kind of doctor who was brilliant," longtime friend Manning Kimmel told local news. "He wanted to spend a lot of time with his patients, he wanted to get to know them. He would spend the kind of time that you don’t see a whole lot of today because of the medical world we’re all living in.

"He was just an exceptional person, and to see this happen to him and his family is just tragic beyond words."