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What we know about the fatal shooting of five people in South Carolina involving a former Patriot

A York County sheriff's deputy was parked outside a residence where multiple people, including a prominent doctor, were fatally shot Wednesday in Rock Hill, S.C.
A York County sheriff's deputy was parked outside a residence where multiple people, including a prominent doctor, were fatally shot Wednesday in Rock Hill, S.C.Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Former NFL defense back Phillip Adams, who played briefly with the New England Patriots and four other teams, allegedly shot five people to death Wednesday in South Carolina before fatally shooting himself, according to law enforcement sources.

Here’s a quick look at what we know about the case, Adams’s biography, and his alleged victims.

Wednesday’s shooting

Sources told the Associated Press and other news outlets that Adams, 32, fatally shot Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, as well as their grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, on Wednesday afternoon at the Lesslies’ home in the Rock Hill area of York County, S.C.

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Adams’ parents live near the Lesslies’ home in Rock Hill, and Adams had been treated by the doctor, according to a source briefed on the probe. The York County Sheriff’s Office said they had searched for hours for a suspect before finding Adams in a nearby home.

A man who had been working at the home, James Lewis, 38, of Gaston, S.C., was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person was hospitalized with serious gunshot wounds, officials said. Adams fatally shot himself early Thursday, according to authorities.

The victims

Dr. Lesslie co-owned two “busy urgent care/occupational clinics,” his website says, and he previously “worked in and directed several of the busiest ERs in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area” for more than two decades.

He also wrote a weekly medical column for several years for The Charlotte Observer.

That column, his site says, presented “a wide variety of topics, both medical and editorial. Since it was first published four years ago, he has penned a column for the YC, a monthly publication in York County, where he has written on medical, philosophical, and personal topics.”

He and his wife were also active in their church.

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“Dr. Lesslie serves as an elder, and he and his wife, Barbara, teach Sunday school and sing in the church choir,” the site says. “They are also involved with an outreach program for disabled/handicapped individuals, Camp Joy, where Dr. Lesslie serves as the camp physician for a week each summer. Dr. Lesslie also enjoys mentoring high school and college students considering a career in medicine.”

The couple had been married for 35 years and were the parents of four children, according to the site. They also had five grandchildren, including the two who were killed Wednesday.

Alleged shooter’s family’s reaction

Adams’s father, Alonzo Adams, told WCNC-TV that football “messed” his son up.

“He was a good kid,” Alonzo Adams told the station. “I think the football messed him up. I don’t think he ever did anybody any harm” before Wednesday. “We pray for the family. ... I know they were good folks down there. I don’t know what happened. We’re going to keep them in our prayers.”

His son, Alonzo Adams said, “didn’t talk much, and he didn’t bother nobody.”

Adams’s NFL career

Adams was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 and played in 15 games that year, recording 11 tackles, according to his biography posted on nfl.com.

He played one game the following year with the Seattle Seahawks and six with the Patriots, according to Pro Football Reference, picking up an interception with the Pats.

He was later waived by New England and played two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, one year with the New York Jets, and a final season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. He played in a total of 78 NFL games during his career, recording 121 tackles and five interceptions, per nfl.com.

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Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.