A prominent Rock Hill, South Carolina, doctor, his wife and two grandchildren were among five victims in a shooting.


The brain of former NFL player Phillip Adams, who has been identified as the suspect in the Rock Hill, S.C. shooting, will be tested for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The Medical University of South Carolina Charleston will conduct the autopsy, and the York County Coroner’s Office will collaborate with Boston University on the CTE assessment.

Police said Adams, 32, shot and killed five people, including a prominent local doctor, his wife and their two young grandchildren. A fifth person working at the family’s home was also found dead, and a sixth person was injured. 

Adams had played in the NFL from 2010-15, for six teams: the 49ers, Patriots, Seahawks, Raiders, Jets and Falcons. He was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his family’s home, down the street from the massacre in Rock Hill, the York County Sheriff’s Office said.

MORE: Ex-NFL player Phillip Adams’ ‘mental health degraded fast and terribly bad,’ says sister

WHAT WE KNOW:Dr. Robert Lesslie and family among those killed in South Carolina shooting

The Boston University CTE Center defines the condition as “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms.”

The condition has been frequently linked to football players and boxers, though there is currently no test that can diagnose CTE in living people.

Adams’ sister, Lauren Adams, told USA TODAY Sports that her brother’s behavior had changed over the past few years after his football career had ended.

“His mental health degraded fast and terribly bad,” Lauren Adams told USA TODAY Sports. “There was unusual behavior. I’m not going to get into all that (symptoms). We definitely did notice signs of mental illness that was extremely concerning, that was not like we had ever seen. …

“He wasn’t a monster. He was struggling with his mental health.”

As a rookie in 2010, Adams suffered a severe ankle injury that required surgery, and in 2012, he had two concussions in a three-game period. Lauren Adams also said her brother was going through a disability claim with the NFL and was feeling frustrated. He had been seeing doctors and recently moved in with his parents. 

“In conversations, it would escalate to arguments,” Lauren Adams continued. “Normally it would just be a normal conversation. His temperament had changed where he was super laid back forever and all of the sudden he had that temper. You could just tell that something was off.”

Contributing: Josh Peter, Christine Fernando and Daniel J. Gross


Show Thumbnails

Show Captions