Police Say They’re Searching For Motive After Former NFL Player Philip Adams Allegedly Killed Five People

(Photo by NFL via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

Police in South Carolina said they are searching for a motive after former National Football League (NFL) player Philip Adams allegedly fatally shot five people, including a well-known community doctor, the doctor’s wife and two grandchildren Wednesday evening. 

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said during a Thursday press briefing that evidence at the scene of the shooting led them to Adams.

“There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us,” Tolson said.

Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife Barbara Lesslie, 69, were both found dead as a result of gunshot wounds, police told CNN. The couple’s two grandchildren, ages 5 and 9, were also killed.

Two men working at the house as air conditioning technicians were also shot, one fatally, Towson said. James Lewis, 38, reportedly died of his wounds. The other victim was not identified. 

Lewis was found dead outside of the home, according to the Associated Press.

Towson shared a statement from the family of the deceased during the briefing, KIRO 7 reported:

“We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable. 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 towards forgiveness and peace, toward love and connectedness, toward celebration and unity.”

The sheriff’s office also played the 911 call from the shooting, when a man said he was mowing the grass when he heard gunshots.

In response to a question from a reporter during the briefing, Tolson said Adam’s allegedly forced entry into the home. He added that there was no indication of a doctor-patient relationship between Adams and Dr. Lesslie.

Earlier Thursday, York County Sheriff spokesman Trent Faris said authorities found a suspect but did not release a name. “We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with them at this time,” Faris said, according to CNN.  “That’s all I can say about that suspect.”

Faris said the suspect “lives on the same road” as the crime scene. The sheriff’s office said on Twitter that there was no “active threat to the community,” and that investigators were still in the area as of early Thursday morning serving a search warrant.

Police went to Adams’ parents’ home after the slayings, where they say they tried to talk Adams out of the home. Police found Adams dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Towson said.(RELATED: Report: Former NFL Player Philip Adams Suspected Of Murdering Five People)

Towson added that two weapons were used in the killings, a 45 and a 9 mm gun.

“We are shocked that this type of incident happened here,” Faris said earlier, according to the AP.

“It doesn’t happen here. It’s one of those strange things that a lot of people are going to have a hard time understanding and we just hope that everybody understands that we’re going to do everything we can to try to figure out why this happened here in Rock Hill, South Carolina,” he added. 

Rock Hill is located in northern South Carolina. Faris said Lesslie was a prominent and well-known doctor in the area, and had been his doctor when he was growing up. (RELATED: 9-Year-Old Died ‘In His Mothers Arms’ In California Mass Shooting, Suspect Identified)

“Dr. Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows,” Faris told the AP. “He started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and it’s been a staple in Rock Hill for years.”

The doctor had been practicing in Rock Hill since 1981 and was the founder of Riverview House Calls & Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care, according to the clinic’s websiteThe doctor and his wife had four children and eight grandchildren, according to the clinic’s website.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.