South Carolina mass shooting: Former NFL pro killed five, then himself

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The gunman who killed five people, including a prominent doctor in York County, was former NFL pro Phillip Adams, who killed himself, according to a source who was briefed on the investigation.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Adams’ parents live near the doctor’s home in Rock Hill, and that he had been treated by the doctor.

The source said Adams killed himself after midnight with a .45 caliber weapon.

A separate source also confirmed with Channel 9 anchor Allison Latos that Adams was the shooter but could not say if he had died by suicide.

The mass shooting on Wednesday evening left five people, including two children, dead, authorities said.

The York County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect was found in a nearby home. Officials had not released any details about him though, and couldn’t say what the motive for the shooting was.

“We have ID’d the person we feel is responsible for the shooting on Marshall Rd. We found him in a nearby house. There is no active threat to the community,” the York County Sheriff’s Office tweeted.

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.

The shooting happened at the Lesslie’s home, deputies said.

A fifth victim, James Lewis, 38, from Gastonia, was found dead outside. Authorities said he had been working at the home when he was shot.

The coroner said all five deaths have been ruled homicides.

York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris said a sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds.”

Lewis worked at Gaston Sheet Metal Services in Gastonia and that the person who survived the shooting was also an employee at GSM Services.

A note letting customers know the business was closed Thursday was posted on the front door, saying, ”Our team at GSM Services is heartbroken from the events that transpired yesterday evening in York, SC. Both men involved in this incident are long-standing, beloved members of our family at GSM. These men embody the values we strive to achieve at GSM and are family focused, up-beat, and wonderful team members who cared about all the people they encountered. In the coming days, our focus is on helping these families and our team members cope with this tragedy … Please continue to keep our families in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days.”

Faris said deputies were called around 4:45 p.m. to the home on Marshall Road in the Rock Hill area.

In a news release, the York County Coroner’s Office said it responded to the home “to investigate multiple deaths at the residence.”

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the area and could see two medical helicopters and an ambulance responding to the scene before deputies asked our helicopter to stand down. A SWAT team vehicle was also spotted.

We are shocked that this type of incident happened here,” Faris said. “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.”

The sheriff’s office spent hours searching for the suspect before finding him. It’s unclear exactly when the suspect was found, but authorities held a news briefing after midnight.

Shortly after the shooting, the York County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that detectives were searching for a man wearing a black hoodie and camo pants who was last seen in the area. Officials said he was possibly armed and dangerous and residents needed to lock their doors and stay inside.

Faris said Lesslie was a prominent figure in Rock Hill and very well-known.

“I’ve lived in Rock Hill my entire life and Dr. Lesslie was my doctor growing up,” Faris said. “Dr. Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows. He started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and it’s been a staple in Rock Hill for years.”

biography page of Dr. Lesslie said he and his wife of 35 years raised four children.

Dr. Robert Lesslie has been practicing in Rock Hill since 1981, according to the Riverview website. He received his degree at the Medical University of South Carolina and has worked in the surrounding Rock Hill area and Charlotte.

He’s has also written several books about real-life stories from the emergency room, including “Angels in the ER.”

In that book, he said, “25 years in the ER have taught me a lot of things. I know without a doubt that life is fragile. I have come to understand that humility may be the greatest virtue. And I am convinced we need to take the time to say the things we deeply feel to the people we deeply care about.”

Another excerpt reads, “Ultimately, the ER is a place where the faith of each one of us will be tested. Here we can learn who we are and on what ground we stand. And sometimes, it is a place where our faith can be found.”

The investigation is ongoing.

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