NFL player accused of killing 6 in York County mass shooting had ‘unusually severe’ stage II CTE, brain test shows

South Carolina News

ROCK HILL, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Former NFL player Phillip Adams, the man accused of shooting six people to death at a home near Rock Hill before killing himself in April, had “unusually severe” stage II CTE, according to brain test results.

On April 7, authorities said Adams killed Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, their two grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, at Dr. Lesslie’s home on Marshal Road.

Two HVAC contractors working outside of the Lesslie home, James Lewis, 38, and Robert Shook, 38, were also shot by Adams, investigators said. Lewis died on the scene.

Shook was taken to the hospital in critical condition before he died from his injuries. His family told FOX 46 he was shot at least six times.

Days after the shooting, the York County Coroner’s Office said Adams’ brain would be studied for CTE, a degenerative brain disease linked to violent mood swings and cognitive decline, including dementia.

During his NFL career, Adams suffered at least two concussions over the course of three games in 2012. Researchers at Boston University worked with the York County Coroner’s office to see if Adams had any brain damage.

Dr. Ann McKee with Boston University confirmed the study of Adams’ brain showed he had bilateral stage II CTE

Dr. McKee said Adams was likely experiencing “progressive cognitive behavioral abnormalities” that increased over time.

The doctor said Adams’ case was different from most stage II CTE patients in that his was “unusually severe in both frontal lobes,” comparing his results to Aaron Hernandez.

According to Dr. McKee, stage II CTE leads to poor impulse control, poor decision making and paranoia. She added that it could lower the threshold for a person to commit a homicidal act.

McKee stated that football put Adams at risk and that his brain injuries “definitely” came from 20 years of contact football.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said the results give investigators a small piece of a puzzle that is still under investigation.

The NFL player’s family said his mental health had degraded “fast and terribly bad.” According to the family, Adams said he was suffering from excruciating pain, memory issues and had difficulty sleeping.

He was reportedly fighting a disability claim with the NFL. The family said his requests for help were denied.

Lisa McHale, the director of family relations with the Concussion Legacy Foundation at Boston University, said it was shocking to hear how serious Adams’ condition was.
“We want people to understand this could happen to anyone,” McHale said.

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