Former NFL player Phillip Adams has shocked a South Carolina community by fatally shooting five of its members, including a prominent doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren. Adams then went on to kill himself, authorities revealed on Thursday.
The York County Sheriff’s department announced that Phillip Adams, 32, shot two air conditioning technicians outside, killing one in the process, before finding his way into Dr. Robert Lesslie’s Rock Hill home.
Along with his wife, Barbara, and two grandchildren, aged 5 and 9, Lesslie was found shot to death in a back room of the house.
James Lewis of Gastonia, North Carolina, was the air conditioning technician found dead outside.
The technician that survived, Robert Shook, is out of surgery, according to a Facebook post from his daughter on Thursday evening. Her father is in intensive care on a ventilator, she wrote.
She said that she was able to see him and that he has a “very long road ahead of him.”
“On behalf of the Lesslie, Alexander, and Colbet clans, we would like to address the outpouring of heartbreak, shock, grief, and support from our family, friends, and community. We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable,” a statement released by the bereaving families read.
“The losses we are suffering cannot be uttered at this time. While we know there are no answers that will satisfy the question why, we are sure of one thing: we do not grieve as those without hope,” it continued.
“Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ, and we are enveloped by peace that surpasses all understanding. To that end, our hearts are bent towards forgiveness and peace, toward love and connectedness, toward celebration and unity.
“We honor all of those involved in this story with prayers and compassion, specifically for the Shook family, the Lewis family, and the Adams family. As Robert Lesslie would say, when peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll, it is well with my soul.
“If you would like to do something for the family, Adah and Noah would want you to stock the free pantries and libraries in your community. Barbara and Robert would want you to be good stewards of what you are given, leaving every place better than it was before you got there.
“Adah, Noah, Barbara, Robert, and the rest of the family would ask any memorials or gifts to be sent to Camp Joy, North Carolina, 918 South Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville, South Carolina, 29607 in honor of hope and the promise of eternity. The Lesslie, Alexander, and Colbet families, April 8th, 2021.”
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson described Lesslie as a ‘pillar in the community’. The doctor served as Winthrop University’s supervising physician and medical director and founded a hospice service and a house-call doctors’ service in the community.
“He treated me in the past at his clinic. … he knew everyone, he treated everyone with respect,” Tolson said.
Winthrop University President George Hynd said Lesslie’s contributions to the school were wide-ranging.
“Students, in particular, have long benefitted from referrals to his practice when additional care was needed beyond our scope,” Hynd said in a statement. “I personally will be forever grateful to him for the advice and counsel he provided to our COVID-19 response team as we opened the campus last fall to residential living and learning.”
Adams himself was discovered by the authorities dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the bedroom of a home approximately a half mile away that was shared with his parents.
Tolson said it was unclear why Adams took two guns to the Lesslie property in Rock Hill, a city of 74,000 residents just across the border from Charlotte, North Carolina.
“There’s nothing about this right now that makes sense to any of us,” the sheriff said.
“Folks, there’s nothing more powerful that I can say today or you can print or you can broadcast than the words that I just read. We have probably more questions than what you do about this case right now,” Tolson said at a York County police press conference following the incident.
“We are working hard to provide some answers. Obviously, one answer is why. That is a question that we are probing.
“As we speak with numerous investigators, we hope to be able to get to those answers and provide some why to the family. Most importantly, out of respect for the families that are victims of this, I’m only going to discuss information that has been released to them.
“Again, that’s out of respect for the family. Also out of respect for the family, please understand that speculation is very harmful to them right now.
Rumors that spread are very harmful to them. We’re trying to provide them with the best information that that we can, and I ask that you do that as well.
“Also, the family has asked that they not be contacted right now. I would ask that the media please respect that as they are in a tremendous amount of grief right now.”