A gunman fatally shot five people including a prominent doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren before later killing himself, authorities said Thursday.
Authorities identified the shooter as former professional American football player Phillip Adams.
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson told a news conference that investigators had not yet determined a motive in the mass shooting Wednesday.
“There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us,” Tolson said.
Dr Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, the York County coroner’s office said.
Sadly 5 people have died as a result of the shooting. Dr. Robert Lesslie & his wife, Barbara Lesslie were both found in the home & died as a result of gunshot wounds, as well as their 2 grandchildren. James Lewis of Gastonia, was working at the home & died from gunshot wounds
— YCSO_SC (@YCSO_SC) April 8, 2021
A man who had been working at the Lesslie home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person, who was not identified, was hospitalised with “serious gunshot wounds,” authorities said.
Tolson said evidence left at the scene of the shooting led authorities to Adams as a suspect. He said they went to Adams’ parents’ home, evacuated them and then tried to talk Adams out of the house. Eventually, they found him dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom, he said.
Tolson said both a .45-caliber and 9mm weapon were used in Wednesday’s shooting.
Tolson added that Lesslie was a beloved member of the community, .
“Dr. Lesslie was a healer in this community,” he said. “He knew everyone. He treated everyone with respect.”
Lesslie had worked for decades as an emergency room doctor, 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.
A biography page said he and his wife raised four children and were actively involved with their church, as well as with Camp Joy, which works with children with disabilities, and where Lesslie served as camp physician for a week each summer.
Adams, 32, played in 78 NFL games over five seasons for six teams. He joined the 49ers in 2010 as a seventh-round draft pick out of South Carolina State, and though he rarely started, he went on to play for New England, Seattle, Oakland and the New York Jets before finishing his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.
“He had an injury his rookie year,” Adams’ agent, Scott Casterline, told The Associated Press. “Some teams wrote him off and he had that stigma of a guy who was hurt. His ability was better than a guy who bounced around a lot. All that weighed on him heavily. He had (six) years, a great career, but he felt he had more. It was hard for him to walk away from the game, especially a guy as dedicated as he was.
“We encouraged him to explore all of his disability options and he wouldn’t do it. He would isolate, but that’s who he was, so it wasn’t a big concern. 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, but he was really hard to follow because he would isolate.”
The shooting followed a string of high-profile mass shootings in the US, including an attack in Boulder Colorado that left 10 dead and an attack in Atlanta that left eight dead.
The South Carolina shooting came hours before President Joe Biden unveiled a slate of executive actions aimed at curtailing gun violence, as he has increasingly called on Congress to pass more lasting legislation.
The US House of Representatives passed two gun control bills in March, but they face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats would need support from 10 Republicans.