YORK COUNTY, S.C. — The gunman who killed five people, including a prominent doctor in York County, was former NFL pro Phillip Adams, who died by suicide early Thursday, officials told Channel 9.
An AP 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.
>> The York County Sheriff’s Office is holding a news conference at 2 p.m. You can watch the update live on Channel 9 and on your WSOC NOW app on your Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.
The York County Sheriff’s Office said they had searched for hours before finding the suspect in a nearby home.
According to the coroner’s office, Adams was found dead in the home after a standoff. His cause of death was listed as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Adams, 32, played as a defensive back for multiple teams including the 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons after starring at South Carolina State. He also suffered multiple injuries in the NFL, including concussions and a broken left ankle.
Officials 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 late Wednesday.
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.”
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On Thursday morning, Channel 9 reporter Ken Lemon confirmed that 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.”
>> We will have continuing coverage of this developing story and will have the latest updates throughout the day on Channel 9.
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.
“One of those people that everybody knows”
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.”
(WATCH BELOW: Reporter Anthony Kustura provides the latest on the investigation.)
A biography page of Dr. Lesslie said he and his wife of 35 years raised four children.
Lesslie had worked for decades as an emergency room doctor in Rock Hill, board-certified in both emergency medicine and occupational medicine and serving as emergency department medical director for nearly 15 years at Rock Hill General Hospital, according to his website.
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 founded two urgent care centers in the area and wrote a weekly medical column for The Charlotte Observer. He also wrote several books, including “Angels in the ER,” collecting what he termed “inspiring true stories” from his time in the emergency department.
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.
On Thursday morning, Rep. Norman issued the following statement in reaction to the loss of Dr. Lesslie, his wife, and their grandchildren:
“I cannot begin to describe the heartache and pain Elaine and I are feeling this morning, as we mourn the tragic loss of Dr. Robert Lesslie, his wife, Barbara, and their grandchildren, Adah, and Noah.
“Robert and Barbara were close friends of ours. To know the Lesslie family is to love them. Through the decades, they made such an incredible impact on our area and the lives of countless people – more than they could have ever known.
“It is impossible to imagine the grief that the extended Lesslie family must be feeling, including and especially their adult children. Please join me in lifting them up in prayers, and wrapping them in the same love and support they’ve shown many of us over the years.
“I also want to send my sincere condolences to the family of James Lewis from Gaston, NC, who also lost his life yesterday. And to the men and women with the York County Sheriff’s Office as well as other first responders: thank you.
“There is a huge hole in our hearts this morning. Though we are overwhelmed with sadness and confusion, I thank God for the blessing of Robert and Barbara’s friendship, and what their family has meant to so many people throughout our community.”
The York County Council and York County Government released the following statement:
“(We) are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that took place yesterday in our community and extends (our) deepest condolences and prayers to all affected by yesterday’s act of violence. York County grieves and mourns alongside our community as we continue to process the events that took place yesterday.
“York County offers our support and acknowledges the heroic services of the York County Sheriff’s Office and all the public safety organizations that diligently worked throughout the night to protect our community.”
“We mourn together as a community in this tragic loss, and words cannot express the heaviness in our hearts,” said York County Chairwoman, Christi Cox. “We come together in prayer and offer our deepest condolences to the families directly impacted by yesterday’s heartbreaking events. York County is thankful for our York County Sherriff’s Office and all the law enforcement agencies and first responders who selflessly and tirelessly worked throughout the evening, night, and morning hours to protect our community.”