SC Massacre: 'None of Us Can Figure Out Why'

Dr. Robert Lesslie, 4 others slain; suspect is former NFL player Phillip Adams
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2021 1:47 PM CDT
Slain Doctor in SC Was an Author, Too
In this 2010 photo, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams sits on the sideline during a game.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

A day after a former NFL player allegedly killed a prominent doctor and four others in South Carolina, more questions than answers were in play. "None of us can figure out why," says Trent Faris of the York County Sheriff's Office, per WBTV. Coverage:

  • The victims: Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, were pronounced dead at the Lesslies' home in Rock Hill, along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, per the AP. James Lewis, 38, who was working at the home, was found fatally shot outside the residence, and a sixth person was wounded. Police were called to the house about 4:45pm Wednesday.
  • The suspect: He has been identified as 32-year-old Phillip Adams, a Rock Hill resident and former pro-football player. Adams was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his family's home, located just down the street from the Lesslie residence, reports CNN.

  • No motive known: Though the families lived near each other, it's not clear what relationship if any Adams had with Robert Lesslie or any of the victims. The Herald reports that Adams took his own life as police surrounded his home. Police had been able to safely remove his mother beforehand.
  • As a player: Adams was a standout football player as a Rock Hill high schooler and later at South Carolina State University. He went on to play defensive back for the 49ers, the Patriots, the Seahawks, the Raiders, and the Jets from 2010 to 2015. The AP notes that he suffered two concussions over three games in 2012, though whether they resulted in long-lasting effects was not known. He also suffered an ankle injury as a rookie that resulted screws being inserted into his leg.
  • The doctor: Robert Lesslie was a well-regarded doctor who practiced in York County for decades and wrote a weekly medical column for the Charlotte Observer in the 1990s, per the Observer. He also wrote books about his medical experiences. “There’s no better place to be an observer than the ER," he told the newspaper in 2008, after the publication of his book Angels in the ER. "You find out what people are about. Everybody has something to teach us." He also wrote Angels on the Night Shift and Miracles in the ER. His Christian faith featured prominently in the books.
(Read more mass shootings stories.)

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