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Former NFL Player Kills 5, Then Self in South Carolina Shooting

Police say the former pro defensive back shot and killed a prominent doctor, his wife and two of their grandchildren along with an air conditioning technician before turning the gun on himself. The motive is unclear.

(CN) — Former NFL player Phillip Adams was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday morning after killing five people in a shooting rampage Wednesday in South Carolina, according to police.

“This is a tragic, tragic situation,” York County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris said at a news conference Thursday. “None of us can figure out why.”

Police were called to the crime scene in Rock Hill late Wednesday afternoon and found six people shot, five dead and another taken to the hospital with “serious gunshot wounds,” according to Faris. Phillips’s body was found later at his nearby home with a .54-caliber pistol that authorities say he used to shoot himself in the head.

Well-known doctor Robert Lesslie, 70, was among the slain, along with his wife Barbara Lesslie, 69, and two of their grandchildren, Adah and Noah, ages 5 and 9, respectively. James Lewis, a 38-year-old air conditioning technician, was also found dead at the scene. Police say the motive is unclear.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said Adams used two weapons in the rampage, a .45-caliber handgun and a 9mm handgun. According to a witness, at least 20 shots were fired.

“There’s nothing right now that makes sense to any of us,” Tolson said. “We are working hard to provide some answers. Obviously, one answer is why. That is a question that we are probing as we speak with numerous investigators.”

Lesslie’s family released a statement on Thursday, saying, “We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable.”

“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,” the family said.

Adams, 32, was a defensive back from 2010 to 2015, playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons. The seventh-round draft pick played college ball at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, about two hours from the scene of the shooting.

“I can say he’s a good kid,” Adams’s father Alonzo said in an interview. “I think the football messed him up.”

Lesslie was a public figure in Rock Hill, practicing medicine in the town since 1981. He was a published author who penned “Angels in the ER” in 2008.

Adams is not the first former NFL player involved in a murder-suicide. In December 2012, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed the mother of his newborn baby before killing himself in the parking lot of the Chiefs’ stadium.

Another football player, Travis Rudolph, 25, appeared before a judge in West Palm Beach on Thursday after he allegedly shot and killed a man and injured another person. Rudolph played for the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins before joining the Canadian Football League. He was released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden announced several executive actions to combat gun violence on Thursday in the White House Rose Garden along with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Vice President Kamala Harris. Also on hand was former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head in 2011.

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic,” Biden said. “And it’s an international embarrassment.”

Biden’s executive orders will, among other things, target the online sale of so-called ghost guns, which can be assembled at home and are untraceable because they have no serial number. The Democratic president said his orders would not impede gun owners’ Second Amendment rights and criticized Congress for failing to take action to curb gun violence.

“They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they have passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence,” Biden said. “Enough prayers, time for some action.”

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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