Phillip Adams: 5 Things To Know About Former NFL Player Suspected Of Shooting 5 People Before Killing Himself

Police named Phillip Adams, a retired NFL player, as the suspect in a shooting that killed five people before allegedly dying by suicide. 'Nothing' makes 'sense' to both authorities and friends.

Retired NFL player Phillip Adams is suspected of allegedly fatally shooting five people — one of them being the well-known Dr. Robert Lesslie — according to the York County Sheriff’s Office, per WCNC. The shooting took place inside Lesslie’s home in York County, South Carolina on April 7, which was “less than a mile away” from where the 32-year-old suspected shooter lived, WCNC reported. Lesslie’s wife Barbara, 69, their grandchildren Adah, 9, and Noah, 5, and someone named James Lewis, 38 (who was working inside the home) also died amid the shooting.

Phillip Adams
Phillip Adams, who played for five famous NFL teams between 2010-2015, is pictured above. [Shutterstock]
A sixth person — Robert Shook, 38 — survived the shooting and is now “fighting hard for his life,” the victim’s cousin reported, according to ESPN. After the tragedy, Adams fled to the home of his parents (who were evacuated) where he reportedly killed himself from “a single gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom,” according the outlet. HollywoodLife can not verify these claims at the time and have reached out to the York County Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said at a news conference on April 8, per ESPN. Investigators are still looking for a motive in this mass shooting. Adams’ relationship to the Lesslie family is also not known at the time; the sheriff clarified that there was no “doctor-patient relationship” between Adams and Dr. Lesslie, a longtime emergency room doctor and the founder of Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care. Learn more about the former professional football player below:

Phillip Adams’ Father Believes Football ‘Messed’ Up His Son

“I can say he’s a good kid,” Adams’ father, Alonzo Adams, told a WCNC reporter after the shooting. He added, “I think the football messed him up…We pray for the family. I know they were good folks.” While officials didn’t report about any known medical conditions, the younger Adams did reportedly suffer two concussions amid his earlier days in professional football, according to WCNC. However, he wasn’t eligible for testing because “of a broad settlement between the league and its former players over such injuries” since Adams didn’t retire by 2014, according to ESPN.

However, Adams’ agent Scott Casterline said that the football player “had an injury’ in his rookie year of professional football. “Some teams wrote him off and he had that stigma of a guy who was hurt. It was hard for him to walk away from the game, especially a guy as dedicated as he was,” the sports agent told AP News. “We encouraged him to explore all of his disability options and he wouldn’t do it. I knew he was hurting and missing football but he wouldn’t take health tips offered to him. He said he would but he wouldn’t. I felt he was lost without football, somewhat depressed.”

Phillip Adams Played For Multiple NFL Teams

Phillip was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. He then went on to play for the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons (in that order). Adams played his last NFL game with the Falcons in 2015, but he did train with the Kansas City Chiefs amid a visit in April of 2016. He played in 78 NFL games total. Before going pro, he played football for South Carolina State.

Phillip Adams’ Football Family Is Bewildered Over The Shooting

A photo of Robert Lesslie, who was also the author of Angels in the ER, among other books. [Facebook]

“He was part of my family. I loved him. He’s a great kid, a great guy. This is so unlike him. He had to not be in his right mind, obviously,” Adams’ agent Scott told AP News. The agent later added, “Seeing Philip shoot two kids, it’s not him. I can’t fathom it. It’s devastating for the victims and the families.”

Kevin Smith, who was a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys and trained Adams both before he entered the 2010 draft and after, was just as shocked. “He didn’t drink not one bit of alcohol. He was a bit of a neat freak. In his house, everything was precisely placed,” the former NFL player told AP News as well.

After Football, Phillip Adams Went On To Open A Food Business

Right before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the retired football player opened a shop that sold smoothies and juices, Kevin Smith told AP News.

Phillip Adams Was A ‘Good Father,’ His Agent Said

Adams was staying in South Carolina because he had a son, according to his agent. “All of us who knew Philip are shaking our heads. He struggled away from the game. I tried to get him to come to Texas. I was going to find him a job, but he wouldn’t leave South Carolina because he had a son. He was a good father,” Scott told AP News.

More From Our Partners