Suspect in South Carolina killings was ex-NFL player, paper says

(Reuters) -The suspect in the deaths of a prominent South Carolina doctor, his wife, two grandchildren and another man was a former professional football player who killed himself after the shootings, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.

Phillip Adams, 32, a former National Football League player, was found dead in a nearby house hours after killings of five people at the home of Dr. Robert Lesslie in suburban Rock Hill, South Carolina, the Rock Hill Herald reported.

The newspaper, citing "law enforcement sources," said police believe Adams took his life after they surrounded the house he was in.

The York County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the shootings that were reported on Wednesday afternoon, said it found the person responsible who it did not name, but did not say whether the suspect was taken alive.

"We have found the person that we believe is responsible and we are with them at this time," Trent Faris, a sheriff's office spokesman, told reporters shortly after midnight.

Faris did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on the report. The sheriff's office has set a press briefing for later on Thursday.

Adams, who is from Rock Hill, had a six-year professional football career as a defensive back with five teams, finishing with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, according to the NFL. He attended South Carolina State and was selecteed in the seventh round of the 2010 draft by the San Francisco 49ers.

Adams' father, Alonzo Adams, confirmed to a local television station that his son had committed the shootings before killing himself, and blamed football for his behavior.

"I can say he's a good kid," the elder Adams told WCNC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina. "I think the football messed him up."

Reached for comment, an NFL spokesman said, "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims of this devastating tragedy."

The shootings left Leslie, his wife Barbara Lesslie, and two grandchildren dead, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

The fifth victim in the deadly shooting was identified as James Lewis, who was working at the Lesslies' home in Rock Hill, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Charlotte, North Carolina.

A sixth victim was wounded in the shooting and rushed to a hospital, according to a local media report.

Local news media said Robert Lesslie was 70 and his wife was 69. The grandchildren were identified as 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie. James Lewis was 38.

Robert Lesslie, a board-certified emergency medicine and occupational medicine physician, was co-owner of two local urgent care clinics, according to an online biography.

He also had worked in and directed several busy emergency rooms at Charlotte-area hospitals and had been medical director of the emergency department at Rock Hill General Hospital for almost 15 years, the biography said.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Additional reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

04/08/2021 16:23

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