South Carolina shooting: ‘Nothing right now’ as authorities search for motive behind ex-NFL pro killing 5, himself

National News
Phillip Adams

FILE – In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams (35) sits on the sideline during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Authorities in South Carolina have confirmed that former NFL player Phillip Adams was the person who killed five people, but remain unsure of the motive.

Officials told a news conference Thursday that they had not yet determined a motive.

“There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us, said York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson.

Tolson said evidence left at the scene of the shooting led them to Adams as a suspect. 

He said they went to Adams’ parents’ home, evacuated them and then tried to talk Adams out of the house. Eventually, they found him dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom, he said.

The York County coroner’s office said Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.

A man who had been working at the home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris said.

Deputies were called around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday to the Lesslies’ home, and spent hours searching for the suspect before finding him in a nearby home.

Adams played as a defensive back for multiple NFL teams including the 49ers, the Jets and the Atlanta Falcons after starring at South Carolina State. He also suffered multiple injuries in the NFL, including concussions and a broken left ankle.

As a rookie late in the 2010 season, Adams suffered a severe ankle injury that required surgery that included several screws being inserted into his leg. He never played for the 49ers again, getting released just before the 2011 season began. Later, with the Raiders, he had two concussions over three games in 2012.

Whether he suffered long-lasting concussion-related injuries wasn’t immediately clear. Adams would not have been eligible for testing as part of a broad settlement between the league and its former players over such injuries, because he hadn’t retired by 2014.

Adams’ father told a Charlotte television station that he blamed football for problems his son had, and which might have led him to commit Wednesday’s violence.

“I can say he’s a good kid — he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up,” Alonzo Adams told WCNC-TV. “He didn’t talk much and he didn’t bother nobody.”

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