Rock Hill has begun to heal.
On a warm April evening, hundreds of people descended on Fountain Park Sunday, seeking solace and catharsis. They met up in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s mass shooting, where six people were killed by a Rock Hill man and former NFL player who authorities said later died by suicide.
The victims included a prominent area doctor, Robert Lesslie, his wife, two of their grandkids and two air conditioning techs working at the the family’s Marshall Road home. The story made national headlines and shook the city of Rock Hill, a town of 75,000 about 30 miles south of Charlotte.
Although Rock Hill preschool teacher Anna Wyman didn’t know the victims, she wanted to show support, and was watching her 1-year-old niece at the vigil.
“When I heard about the grandchildren, that really affected me. I love kids and I’m glad she can be out here,” Wyman said, pointing to her niece. “It just like makes me treasure her even more.
“We need to come together as a community in times like these,” Wyman said.
People mourned the loss of Dr. Lesslie, 70; his wife, Barbara, 69; and their grandchildren, Adah, 9, and Noah, 5;, and air-conditioning technicians with GSM Services of Gastonia, N.C., James Lewis, 38, and Robert Shook, 38. Shook was wounded in the attack, and succumbed to his injuries Saturday night, authorities said.
Authorities said that the suspect, Phillip Adams, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his family’s home — less than a mile from the Lesslie house — as police surrounded the house late Wednesday.
Motive still unknown
Authorities do not yet know the motive for the shooting, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said last week. Detectives have not confirmed reports that Adams had been a patient of Dr. Robert Lesslie’s, Tolson said.
Lesslie was a physician in York County for decades. He was the medical director of the emergency room at Piedmont Medical Center for 15 years.
At the time of his death, Lesslie was medical director of Riverview House Calls & Riverview Hospice & Palliative Care and had written several books on emergency room work and workers.
The Lesslies had been married more for than 40 years.
CTE test planned
Adams was once a Rock Hill High football star, who went on to play the sport at South Carolina State University and then had a six-year journeyman’s career in the NFL.
Adams’ brain will be tested for CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, as part of an autopsy procedure, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said. She spoke with the Adams family for approval to have the procedure done.
The Boston University CTE Center defines CTE as “a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain” injury.
Adams, 32, started his NFL career in 2010 and played for the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets. Adams suffered several concussions, two of which occurred over a three-game stretch.
Adams’ family, in a statement to The Herald, raised concerns about the influence of Adams’ football stint: “We don’t know if football played a role in this drastic chance, but we do know there has to be some catalyst,” the statement said.
Results from the CTE tests are not expected for months.
This story is developing and will be updated.