Massacre survivor is AC technician 'wrapping up' job at doctor's home
PICTURED: Wounded AC technician who was sole survivor of Rock Hill shooting at doctor’s S.C. home and was ‘wrapping up a job’ when ex-NFL pro neighbor showed up with two handgun and killed five
- Former pro NFL player Phillip Adams suspected of carrying out mass shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, that killed five
- Victims named as Dr Robert Lesslie, 70; wife Barbara, 69; grandchildren Noah,5, and Adah, 8; James Lewis, 38, who worked at Lesslies’ property, was also killed
- Lewis worked as HVAC technician, was single father of three and his parents’ only child
- Sixth person, Lewis’ co-worker Robert Shook, a married dad-of-three, was shot multiple times but survived
- Adams took his own life after midnight with a .45 caliber gun; he was also in possession of a 9mm gun
- Adams’ parents live next to Lesslie family, and Dr Lesslie used to be the football player’s physician
- Adams suffered multiple injuries during his six seasons in the NFL, including concussions and a broken left ankle
- Alonso Adams, Phillips’ father, blamed tragedy on football and said his son was ‘a good kid’
- Phillip had criminal record that included charges of assault, battery and carrying a concealed gun
The only survivor of Wednesday’s mass shooting perpetrated by former NFL pro Phillip Adams in South Carolina is an air conditioning repairman who was about to finish a job at the home of a prominent doctor when he was shot multiple times before the physician was massacred alongside his wife and two of their grandchildren.
Robert Shook, 38, of Cherryville, South Carolina remains hospitalized in critical condition on Thursday after he was among six people shot in Wednesday’s massacre just before 5pm.
Shook and his co-worker, James Lewis, 38, of Gastonia, North Carolina, were called to the home of Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, in Rock Hill to tend to an air conditioning problem.
Lewis is a single father of three young children.
‘He was very close to his kids,’ James’ father, Thomas, told WCNC-TV. ‘He was doing a great job.’
‘They are going to miss him,’ Thomas said of his grandchildren. ‘The oldest is 16, and the twins will be 13 soon.’
Thomas said that his son was going to night college to earn a degree while working to provide for his family. He is trying to make sense of the tragedy.
‘Don’t shoot an entire family, or whoever happened to be there,’ said Thomas Lewis.
‘His beef was not with my son. He had never met my son, never laid eyes on him.’
Lesslie, a prominent doctor who once treated Adams, and his wife, Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, the York County coroner’s office said.
Robert Shook, 38, of Cherryville, South Carolina is the only survivor of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Shook and his co-worker, James Lewis (seen far left with his three children), 38, of Gastonia, North Carolina, were called to the home of Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, in Rock Hill to tend to an air conditioning problem
This photo shows Dr Lesslie, his wife and their two grandchildren who perished in the massacre on Wednesday (circled in red). Lesslie, a prominent doctor who once treated Adams, and his wife, Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, the York County coroner’s office said
This map shows the location of Lesslies’ home where Robert, Barbara and their grandchildren were found dead; their property where James Lewis was killed, and the home of Phillip Adams’ parents a short drive away
Lewis and Shook, employees of Gastonia-based GSM Services, were working outside on the doctor’s air conditioning unit at the time the shooting started.
The home in Rock Hill, South Carolina is just 30 miles from Gastonia, North Carolina.
The two men were ‘wrapping up’ their assignment when the gunfire started, Shook’s family told WBTV-TV.
Lewis was found shot to death outside, and Shook, a father of three children ages 7, 13, and 18, was hospitalized with ‘serious gunshot wounds,’ York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris said.
‘He is a hard-working man who put himself through school to become a certified hearing and air service worker, to provide for his family,’ Shook’s cousin, Heather said.
‘He is just a wonderful, wonderful man.’
At a news conference on Friday, investigators said Shook suffered a gunshot wound to the face and head area.
The gunman was identified as Adams, a former pro football player who had stints with the Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, and New England Patriots.
Former pro NFL player Phillip Adams (left) has been identified as the gunman who allegedly carried out a mass shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, that killed five, including two children
As police surrounded his home just down the block from the crime scene, Adams killed himself early Thursday by firing a round from a .45-caliber gun into his head, according to those familiar with details of the investigation.
According to investigators, Adams shot Shook and Lewis before entering the house and shooting the couple and their two young grandchildren.
Shook’s family said that Robert was able to call 911 and ask for help. Since hospitalized, he has undergone multiple surgeries as doctors attempt to stabilize his condition.
Rep Ralph Norman, a Republican from South Carolina, told WISTV that it is his ‘understanding’ that his friend, Lesslie, was treating Adams and had stopped giving Adams medication.
Norman, who described himself as a close friend of Lesslie and his wife, said he was told by law enforcement that withholding medication from Adams led to the deadly attack.
A person briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press earlier that Adams had been treated by Lesslie.
However, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson would not confirm that Adams had been the doctor’s patient.
FULL STATEMENT FROM LESSLIE FAMILY:
‘On behalf of the Lesslie, Alexander, and Kulbok clans, we would like to address the outpouring of heartbreak, shock, grief, and support from our family, friends, and community.
We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable. The losses we are suffering cannot be uttered at this ‘time.
‘While we know there are no answers that will satisfy the question “why,” we are sure of one thing: we do not grieve as those without hope. Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ, and we are enveloped by peace that surpasses all understanding. To that end, our hearts are bent toward forgiveness and peace. Toward love and connectedness. Toward celebration and unity. We honor all of those involved in this story with prayers and compassion specifically for the Shook family, the Lewis family, and the Adams family.
‘As Robert Lesslie would say, when peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, it is well with my soul.
‘If you would like to do something for the family,
‘Adah and Noah would want you to stock the free pantries and libraries in your community.
‘Barbara and Robert would want you to be good stewards of what you are given, leaving every place better than it was before you got there.’
Adams had only recently moved in with his parents in Rock Hill, just a 2 minutes’ drive from Dr Robert Lesslie’s home. He had a criminal history, which included assault and weapons charges.
Tolson held a press conference on Thursday afternoon and confirmed that Adams used two firearms, a .45 caliber and a 9mm gun, to fatally shoot Lesslie, his wife, their two grandchildren, and Lewis.
Tolson said investigators still have a lot of questions about the shooting and had not yet determined a motive.
‘There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us,’ he told reporters.
The sheriff opened the press conference by reading a statement from the Lesslie family, which said in part: ‘While we know there are no answers that will satisfy the question “why,” we are sure of one thing: we do not grieve as those without hope. Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ, and we are enveloped by peace that surpasses all understanding. To that end, our hearts are bent toward forgiveness and peace. Toward love and connectedness. Toward celebration and unity.’
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster released a statement on Twitter, calling the killings ‘tragic and heartbreaking.’
The Lesslies were found suffering from gunshot wounds in one room at their home and were pronounced dead, while Lewis, who had been working at the property, was discovered outside.
During the news press conference, Sheriff Tolson said Shook was in a ‘very critical’ condition.
Tolson played several 911 calls reporting the shooting, including one that was placed by Shook and Lewis’ colleague. He tells an emergency dispatcher that he had received a call from Shook, saying: ‘I’ve been shot, call 911!’
The caller said Shook was slurring his speech, and speculated that the air conditioning installer had been shot in the head or face.
Another caller said: ‘I think there’s been a bad shooting. Maybe four people.’ He said he heard about 20 shots fired.
Adams’ father told a Charlotte television station that he blamed football for problems his son had, and which might have led him to commit Wednesday’s violence.
‘I can say he’s a good kid – he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up,’ Alonzo Adams told WCNC-TV.
‘He didn’t talk much and he didn’t bother nobody.’
Deputies were called around 4:45pm on Wednesday to the Lesslies’ home, which is not visible from the road.
They evacuated the neighbors as they spent hours searching for a suspect with police dogs.
Allison Hope, who lives across from Adams’ parents’ modest one-story brick home, about a mile from the Lesslies, said police allowed her to return home around 9pm on Wednesday.
Moments later, a vehicle pulled into the Adams’ driveway and law enforcement quickly surrounded the property.
She said they spent hours negotiating with Phillip Adams, using a loudspeaker and sending in a robot to scan the house.
Lewis (pictured) and Shook, employees of Gastonia-based GSM Services, were working outside on the doctor’s air conditioning unit at the time the shooting started. The home in Rock Hill, South Carolina is just 30 miles from Gastonia, North Carolina
Lewis is seen above playing video games with two of his children in this undated file photo. Lewis’ father said his son was going to night college to earn a degree while working to earn a living and provide for his children
Shook’s family said that Robert was able to call 911 and ask for help. Since hospitalized, he has undergone multiple surgeries as doctors attempt to stabilize his condition
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson held a press conference on Thursday, during which he played multiple 911 calls reporting the deadly shooting and read a statement on behalf of the Lesslie family
She said authorities repeatedly asked Adams to come out, and promised to get his disabled mother out safely, before Adams shot himself.
‘This is something I can’t grasp yet. I can’t put it all together and I’m trying to, and I witnessed it,’ Hope said.
‘I feel bad for him because if it was mental or something going on in his life or whatever, you know, he needed help, and that’s the sad part.’
Adams, a cornerback out of South Carolina State, was a seventh-round NFL Draft pick in 2010. Although he was never a standout in the league, he did play in 78 games over five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons.
His best seasons came in his two years in Oakland, where he appeared in 31 games and recorded a pair of interceptions.
Rarely a starter, Adams finished his career with the Falcons in 2015.
Adams earned just over $3million over parts of his six NFL season, according to Spotrac.com.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster tweeted on Thursday about the ‘tragic and heartbreaking’ shooting
Adams suffered multiple injuries over the course of his football career, including a pair of concussions, which he sustained while playing for the Oakland Raiders in 2012. Despite that, he only missed one game that season.
Raiders spokespeople in Las Vegas did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment on Thursday.
Whether he suffered long-lasting concussion-related injuries wasn’t immediately clear. Adams would not have been eligible for testing as part of a broad settlement between the league and its former players over such injuries, because he hadn’t retired by 2014.
Adams often isolated himself, even as a player, his agent, Scott Casterline, told the AP.
Casterline said he spoke regularly with Adams’ father, who left him a voicemail Wednesday morning.
‘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,’ Casterline said.
‘All of us who knew Phillip 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.’
Adams’ former doctor, Robert Lesslie ( left and right), was killed at his home in Rock Hill, South Carolina on Wednesday afternoon, along with his wife, two grandchildren and a man who was working on the family’s property at the time
‘Seeing Phillip shoot two kids, it’s not him. I can’t fathom it. It’s devastating for the victims and the families,’ Casterline said.
Former Cowboys cornerback Kevin Smith, who trained Adams leading up to the 2010 draft and after he entered the league, said he was a hard worker.
He and Casterline both said Adams had opened a shop selling smoothies and juice before COVID-19 hit, and emphasized he didn’t drink or do drugs.
‘He didn’t drink not one bit of alcohol,’ Smith said. ‘He was a bit of a neat freak. In his house, everything was precisely placed.’
Faris, the sheriff’s spokesman, provided few details ahead of a planned news conference later Thursday.
‘We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with him at this time and that’s all I can say about the suspect,’ Faris said, adding that they had no reason to believe anyone else was involved.
Both Faris and Adams’ father said they had been patients of the slain doctor.
‘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,’ Faris said.
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.
He founded two urgent care centers, wrote a weekly medical column for The Charlotte Observer, and also wrote a book, ‘Angels in the ER,’ collecting what he termed ‘inspiring true stories’ from his work.
A biography page said he and his wife raised four children.
‘I know without a doubt that life is fragile,’ Lesslie wrote in his book.
Police were called to the home in the Rock Hill area at around 4:45 pm after gunshots were heard. Pictured above are some members of the victims’ family, including Dr Lesslie and wife, Barbara (circled in red), who were killed
Adah, 9, and her brother, Noah, 5, were the children of Dr Lesslie’s son, Jeff (pictured above). Both were shot dead at their grandparents’ home on Wednesday by their neighbor Phillip Adams
Lesslie, a well-respected doctor who had treated Adams, is pictured playing the piano with his granddaughter Adah, who was among the people killed on Wednesday. No motive has been determined
A SWAT vehicle is seen outside the gate at Robert Lesslie’s property after Wednesday’s mass shooting on Marshall Road in Rock Hill, South Carolina – a small city 40 miles away from Charlotte
Robert and Barbara Lesslie lived in this spacious home on a large tract of land with an estimated value of more than $1million (pictured)
‘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.’
GSM Services, the North Carolina-based company that employed Lewis and Shook, released a statement that read: ‘As you can imagine, our team at GSM Services is heart broken 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.
We wish to thank the law enforcement and emergency management personnel who have been so helpful with their communication, empathy, and professionalism as we dealt with this yesterday and overnight.
‘We also want to thank our community for all the support for our team and these families.
‘Our community has helped us build this company through all of our good times and we are blessed knowing this support continues during bad times.
‘Please continue to keep our families in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days.’
As a rookie late in the 2010 season, Adams suffered a severe ankle injury that required surgery that included several screws being inserted into the leg.
Adams (left and right) was an football cornerback who played in the NFL. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers
This photo shows the $170,000 home on Marshall Road belonging to Adams’ parents
He never played for the 49ers again, getting released just before the 2011 season began and signing with New England.
Only in 2013 with the Raiders was he on a roster for a full season.
Adams had a criminal record, which included an arrest in 2009 on charges of misdemeanor assault and battery, although he was not convicted. He was also arrested in Charlotte for carrying a concealed gun in 2016.
In 2009, Adams’ mother, Phyllis Adams, was involved in a horrific car wreck that has left her severely disabled and wheelchair-bound.
In an interview with The Times and Democrat in 2010, Phillip was quoted as saying: ‘[My mother] is my motivation,” he said. “We can look through life, and you go through adversity. This is one of the biggest things I have had to deal with.’
Former Cowboys cornerback Kevin Smith, who trained Adams leading up to the 2010 draft and after he entered the league, said he was a hard worker. He and Casterline both said Adams had opened a shop selling smoothies and juice before COVID-19 hit, and emphasized he didn’t drink or do drugs.
‘He didn’t drink not one bit of alcohol,’ Smith said. ‘He was a bit of a neat freak. In his house, everything was precisely placed.’
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