A well-respected doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren were shot and killed inside a South Carolina home by a man law enforcement officials have identified as Phillip Adams, a former professional football player who was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.
A little before 4:45pm Wednesday, Adams allegedly forced his way into the home that Dr. Robert Lesslie shared with his wife, Barbara, just south of Rock Hill, according to York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson.
Adams then allegedly shot the Lesslies and their two young grandchildren, 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie, along with two air-conditioning repairmen who were on the property at the time—one of whom, James Lewis of Gastonia, also died.
The second repairman, whose name was not disclosed, is in “very critical” condition at a hospital, Tolson said.
After searching the area, law enforcement officers found Adams dead at about 2:30am Thursday from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at a nearby home, where he lived with his parents, according to sheriff’s officials.
“We did recover evidence at the scene that linked Mr. Adams to the (Lesslie home) definitively,” Tolson said during a live-streamed news conference Thursday.
He said Adams used two firearms, a .45 and 9 mm, during the killings.
“We don’t have any indication they were illegally obtained,” Tolson said.
He also said that while investigators are still searching for a motive, including the possibility that Adams was upset at being denied medication, they “have no indication right now there was a doctor-patient relationship” between Adams and Dr. Lesslie.
“There’s nothing about this right now that makes sense to any of us,” Tolson said.
“Dr. Lesslie was a pillar of this community,” he said. “He knew everyone. He treated everyone with respect.”
Adams played football for nearby Rock Hill High School, was drafted in 2010 by the 49ers out of South Carolina State as a defensive back and played for a variety of teams until 2015, including the then-Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.
During the news conference Thursday, Tolson read a statement from the victims’ families that highlighted their reliance on faith to help see them through their shock and grief.
“We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable. The losses we are suffering cannot be uttered at this time,” reads a portion of the statement. “Our hearts are bent towards forgiveness and peace, towards love and connectedness, towards celebration and unity.”
The 49ers did not immediately return a request for comment.