Family Whose Relatives Were Killed by Ex-NFL Player Says 'Our Hearts Are Bent Toward Forgiveness'
Dr. Robert and Barbara Lesslie had been married for 40 years, and had four children and eight grandchildren
In a statement released Thursday, the families of four family members murdered by former NFL player Phillip Adams said that they have turned to their faith to help them through their pain.
"We do not grieve as those without hope," reads the statement from the relatives of Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his wife Barbara Lesslie, 69, and their grandchildren, Adah, 9, and Noah, 5, all of whom were fatally shot Wednesday afternoon inside their Rock Hill, S.C., home. "Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ, and we are enveloped by peace that surpasses all understanding."
The statement continues: "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."
According to investigators, Adams forced his way into the Lesslie home after shooting two HVAC technicians who were at the home, doing work on the central air conditioning: James Lewis, 38, was found dead in the driveway by responding police, and his co-worker, Robert Shook, remains hospitalized in critical condition from gunshot wounds.
Adams, 32, died by suicide late Wednesday after a standoff with officers.
Adams' body was found inside a room in his parents' home, just down the street from the Lesslie residence. Adams, who was living with his parents at the time of the murders, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Police first learned of the mass shooting at about 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, after receiving 911 calls from a landscaper who was cutting the Lesslie's grass and Shook's boss, who'd received calls from his employee, saying he'd been shot.
Authorities knew early on Adams was behind the shooting, saying the former NFL pro left unspecified evidence behind in the 70-year-old doctor's home.
Officials said Thursday there is no evidence yet to suggest that there was a possible doctor-client relationship between Adams and Robert Lesslie, a well-known physician and author in the area, who'd founded the Riverview Medical Center.
The statement released by the family of the victims reads, "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."
It adds, "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."
The statement notes that the Lesslies were supporters of Camp Joy North Carolina, and suggests memorial donations be made to that organization, which has an address of 918 South Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville, SC 29607.
The Lesslies had been married for 40 years, and had four children and eight grandchildren.
They were active members of a Rock Hill church who loved animals and traveling together.
Adams played college football for the South Carolina State Bulldogs before being selected in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
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The former cornerback also played for the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets. He last played with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.
Adams retired from the game in 2017.
On Thursday, Alonzo Adams, the shooter's father, spoke to WCNC, and acknowledged being a former patient of the man his son killed.
The father also insinuated that his son may have had brain trauma from his years in the NFL, saying, "I think the football messed him up."