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Ex-NFL player Phillip Adams dead by suicide after killing 5 in South Carolina, officials say

Authorities identified the victims as Dr. Robert Lesslie, his wife, their grandchildren and a man working at the home.
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Former NFL player Phillip Adams died by apparent suicide in South Carolina after he shot and killed five people Wednesday, including a prominent doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren, the sheriff's office said.

Adams, 32, was found dead from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound in a nearby home on the same street as the victims after a standoff with authorities in York County, officials said Thursday. He played as a defensive back for multiple NFL teams, including the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons.

York County sheriff's deputies responded to a report of gunfire about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at a residence in the 4400 block of Marshall Road in Rock Hill, about 27 miles southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, the sheriff's office said. Inside the home, authorities found the bodies of Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, Barbara Lesslie, 69, and their grandchildren.

Image: Dr. Robert Lesslie in 2009
Dr. Robert Lesslie in Rock Hill, S.C., in March 2009.John D. Simmons / The Charlotte Observer via AP file

The York County Coroner's Office identified the grandchildren as Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.

All "died as a result of gunshot wounds," the sheriff's office said Thursday in a tweet.

The fifth victim, James Lewis, was working at the home, according to the sheriff's office. The coroner's office said Lewis, 38, was from Gastonia, North Carolina, west of Charlotte.

An unidentified sixth victim was being treated for serious injuries, said Trent Faris, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office.

Faris said that after an hourslong manhunt, officers found a suspect who "lives on the same road" as the victims and that a search warrant was served on the house.

Phillip Adams in 2010.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams during a game against the New Orleans Saints in San Francisco on Sept. 20, 2010.Icon Sportswire via Getty Images file

Residents were urged to stay in their homes and lock their doors during the search. By Thursday morning, the York County Sheriff's Office said, there was "no active threat to the community."

"We have IDed the person we feel is responsible for the shooting on Marshall Rd," the agency said in another tweet. "We found him in a nearby house."

Investigators did not immediately determine a motive for the shooting.

A man who identified himself as Adams' father, Alonzo Adams, told NBC affiliate WCNC of Charlotte that his son killed himself after he shot six people, killing five and injuring one.

"I think the football messed him up," he told the station.

An NFL spokesperson, who would not confirm details about Adams' death, expressed the league's condolences.

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims of this devastating tragedy," the NFL said.

The 49ers drafted Adams in 2010 and cut him before the 2011 season because of an ankle injury. He also played briefly for the New England Patriots, the Oakland Raiders, the Seattle Seahawks, the New York Jets and the Falcons.

"We are aware of the senseless tragedy in Rock Hill, S.C., involving former player Phillip Adams," Atlanta Falcons spokesperson David Bassity said in a statement. "We offer our heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those who have been affected."

Robert Lesslie was the founder and medical director of Riverview House Calls & Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care, according to the company's website. He received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and practiced in Rock Hill for 40 years, the website said.

He and his wife had four adult children and eight grandchildren.

"We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable," said several members of the Lesslie family in a statement released by Rob Alexander, Jeffrey Lesslie’s brother-in-law.

"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. 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 toward 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."

Rock Hill is the fifth-largest city in South Carolina, with a population of about 73,000.

Faris, the sheriff's spokesman, who has lived in Rock Hill his entire life, said Lesslie was his childhood doctor.

"A lot of people know Dr. Lesslie," Faris said. "This is a very tragic, tragic situation."

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit for additional resources.