Dr. Robert Lesslie was a beloved South Carolina doctor and faith-based author who was murdered along with his wife, two grandchildren, and a worker, by Phillip Adams, a former NFL defensive back, sheriff’s officials say.
Adams, who committed suicide after the slayings, is accused of wounding six people, killing five of them, including Dr. Lesslie and three of his family members.
The suspect was named by WSOC-TV, citing officials. The doctor was prominent in his local community and wrote about how he witnessed moments of faith in the emergency room where he worked.
“I never left my faith in the parking lot or at home. In the ER, you’re dealing with significant diseases and life-altering circumstances. Dealing with those and being able to minister to (patients) when you can is an issue of faith,” Lesslie once told the Charlotte Observer.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Sheriff Described Dr. Lesslie as a ‘Pillar’ in the Local Community
The sheriff, speaking in an April 8, 2021, news conference, described Dr. Lesslie as a “pillar of the community,” who was helpful to law enforcement over the years.
A 2008 article on the doctor in the Charlotte Observer said, “Rock Hill physician Robert Lesslie has taken care of thousands of patients in the York County area during his 25 years in practice. Lesslie has spent most of his career caring for folks in nearby emergency rooms.”
He had even treated the sheriff.
“He knew everyone, and he treated everyone with respect,” said the sheriff, adding that the doctor raised his family to be the same.
Adams, the gunman, played for multiple NFL teams. He was a defensive back and punt returner for the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers from 2010 to 2015, according to his NFL.com profile. He as also briefly signed by the New England Patriots in 2011, but did not play in a game for the team.
Adams, originally from Rock Hill, South Carolina, played football at Rock Hill High School and South Carolina State University. He was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL Draft in 2010. He had multiple concussions and a left ankle injury in the NFL, WSOC reported.
2. The Family Wrote That They Are Grieving With Hope ‘Found in the Promise of Jesus Christ’
The other victims from the doctor’s family were named as Dr. Lesslie’s wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, and their grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5. In addition, a man who was working at the home, James Lewis, was murdered, authorities 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,” the York County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
In a statement posted to Robert Lesslie’s Facebook page, the family wrote:
The four Lesslie siblings wrote this statement: 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.
Adah, Noah, Barbara, Robert, and the rest of the family would ask any memorials or gifts to be sent to Camp Joy North Carolina (918 South Pleasantburg Dr., Greenville, SC 29607) in honor of hope and the promise of eternity.
They initially wrote, “At 4:45 PM deputies were sent to a home near 4400 Marshall Rd. reference a report of a shooting involving multiple individuals. We’re searching for a young black male wearing a hoodie & camo pants. This is a very active investigation.”
The first deputies arrived on the scene eight minutes after receiving 911 calls and began to assist the first two victims they encountered. “We immediately began to assemble a team to clear the house,” the York County sheriff said.
They found the doctor, his wife and some grandchildren in the back of the house. A living victim was also discovered. Authorities requested a drone and canine unit to respond. They were able to identify the suspect in this incident.
JUST IN: Former NFL player Phillip Adams killed 5 people yesterday then himself last night😔
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,. pic.twitter.com/FbfQAMfgag
— RapTV (@raptvcom) April 8, 2021
Officials said they had “IDed 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. Detectives are still in the area serving a search warrant & investigating this tragic event.”
Authorities said they contacted Adams’ father who lived with the suspect. They were able to remove the parents from the home.
They had a search warrant for the home and then confirmed that Phillip Adams was “deceased in a bedroom in the home.”
3. Dr. Lesslie Was an Author of Books Including ‘Angels in the ER’
Dr. Robert Lesslie wrote on Facebook that he was the “author of Angels in the ER, Angels on Call, Angels and Heroes, Angels on the Night Shift & Notes from a Doctor’s Pocket.”
He added, “I am an author and an actively practicing physician in upstate South Carolina. My posts mostly consist of quotations; particularly ones that I find inspiring, encouraging, or simply amusing.”
Asked why he decided to share his experience on emergency rooms, he told the Observer: “I’ve been an observer of human condition as well as a physician. There’s no better place to be an observer than the ER. You find out what people are about. Everybody has something to teach us. I wanted to do this from a spiritual perspective. Once that became clear to me, it wrote itself.”
He wrote about his Christian faith. According to the newspaper, he described a couple who came to the ER.
“I diagnosed him with an inoperable brain tumor. A huge tumor. I was amazed he was not having more symptoms. Devastating news. It could take his life. They were Christians, and it was a test to their faith. When I came back in the room, they were not upset. The man said, ‘I trust what the Lord has in store for me.’ It was an amazing statement of faith,” he told the newspaper.
4. The Doctor Recently Wrote That Heaven Would Be ‘Perfect’ When he Died
Dr. Lesslie had recently written about death. A post on his Facebook page now reads:
As many of you know, Dr. Lesslie passed into glory yesterday. Here are words that he recently wrote:
‘One day, when I depart this body and find myself in the presence of the Lord, my time, however it will be measured, will be filled with the praises and the wonder of Jesus. I know that I will once again be able to hug my mother and walk and talk with my father. There are a lot of people I want to see as well—family and friends, grandparents, some of whom I never met on this side. And I will seek out Peter and John and the Apostle Paul, as well as other giants of the faith—men and women whose words and deeds have guided and molded my journey and my heart.
We have no idea what Heaven will look like, only that it will be perfect. And because of that I know that one day, when I’ve experienced the presence and joy of that surrounding host of saints, I will find myself walking with Barbara in a field of lush, green grass, surrounded by gently rising conifer-cloaked hills. The words of Jesus will echo through that glade—“Behold, I make all things new.” And there will come Dox, charging towards us, his ears flapping in the breeze, his golden hair and majestic tail waving in the wind, and both of his laughing, dancing eyes meeting ours.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.’
5. Adams Played for Prominent NFL Teams
The motive is under investigation. “There’s nothing about this that makes sense to any of us,” the sheriff said.
It wasn’t clear whether Adams was ever a patient of the doctor, authorities said. Authorities say that Adams left evidence at the scene that allowed them to connect him to the mass murder. They didn’t specify what it was.
“He forced entry,” the sheriff said.
There were two air conditioning techs outside at the time of the mass murder. He said they have no information the weapons were illegally obtained. Authorities said there were past traffic citations against Adams.
Adams’ father, Alonzo Adams, told WCNC-TV, “I can say he’s a good kid. I think the football messed him up.” Alonzo Adams told the news station he knew the family. He added , “I don’t think he ever did anybody any harm,. All I can say is we pray for the family. He used to be my doctor a long time ago. I know they were good folks down there. We’re gonna keep them in our prayers.”
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