Apr 8, 2021

York County Press Conference Transcript April 8: Former NFL Pro Phillip Adams Kills 5, Himself

York County Press Conference Transcript April 8: Former NFL Pro Phillip Adams Kills 5 and Himself
RevBlogTranscriptsYork County Press Conference Transcript April 8: Former NFL Pro Phillip Adams Kills 5, Himself

York County police held a press conference on April 8, 2021 to announce that former NFL pro Phillip Adams is the suspect in a South Carolina shooting that left 5 dead. Adams then killed himself. Read the transcript of the briefing with updates on the investigation here.

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Speaker 4: (00:59)
Thank you everybody for being here. As you can imagine, the last 22 hours have been very busy for us here at the York County Sheriff’s Office, and we thank you for your patience.

Speaker 4: (01:08)
We are now ready to release more information about the shooting incident that took place at 4456 Marshall Road yesterday. With that said, here’s sheriff Kevin Tolson. Sheriff.

Kevin Tolson: (01:22)
Good afternoon. The spelling of my name is K-E-V-I-N T-O-L-S-O-N, Kevin Tolson. Thank you for coming. And I’d like to begin by reading a statement from some of the families of some of the victims.

Kevin Tolson: (01:49)
On behalf of the Lesslie, Alexander, and [Colbet 00:01:52] clans, we would like to address the outpouring of heartbreak, shock, grief, and support from our family, friends, and community. We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable.

Kevin Tolson: (02:03)
The losses we are suffering cannot be uttered at this time. 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.

Kevin Tolson: (02:16)
Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ, and we are enveloped by peace that surpasses all understanding. To that end, our hearts are bent towards forgiveness and peace, toward love and connectedness, toward celebration and unity.

Kevin Tolson: (02:33)
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. As Robert Lesslie would say, when peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll, it is well with my soul.

Kevin Tolson: (02:53)
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.

Kevin Tolson: (03:09)
Adah, Noah, Barbara, Robert, and the rest of the family would ask any memorials or gifts to be sent to Camp Joy, North Carolina, 918 South Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville, South Carolina, 29607 in honor of hope and the promise of eternity. The Lesslie, Alexander, and Colbet families, April 8th, 2021.

Kevin Tolson: (03:36)
Folks, there’s nothing more powerful that I can say today or you can print or you can broadcast than the words that I just read. We have probably more questions than what you do about this case right now.

Kevin Tolson: (03:55)
We are working hard to provide some answers. Obviously, one answer is why. That is a question that we are probing.

Kevin Tolson: (04:06)
As we speak with numerous investigators, we hope to be able to get to those answers and provide some why to the family. Most importantly, out of respect for the families that are victims of this, I’m only going to discuss information that has been released to them.

Kevin Tolson: (04:28)
Again, that’s out of respect for the family. Also out of respect for the family, please understand that speculation is very harmful to them right now.

Kevin Tolson: (04:37)
Rumors that spread are very harmful to them. We’re trying to provide them with the best information that that we can, and I ask that you do that as well.

Kevin Tolson: (04:47)
Also, the family has asked that they not be contacted right now. I would ask that the media please respect that as they are in a tremendous amount of grief right now. So this is what we know currently.

Kevin Tolson: (05:02)
Yesterday evening at about 4:44 PM, York County public safety communications received the following two 911 calls.

Recorded Voice: (05:09)
[inaudible 00:05:09] 2021, 15 hours, 43 minutes, four seconds.

911 Operator #1: (05:22)
York County 911. Do you need police, fire, or medical?

Speaker 4: (05:24)
Yes, I need to get an ambulance and marshals, I guess, heading towards an address in Rock Hill, please.

911 Operator #1: (05:30)
Okay, what’s that address, please?

Speaker 4: (05:32)
4456 Marshall Road, Rock Hill, South Carolina.

911 Operator #1: (05:36)
All right, what’s going on there?

Speaker 4: (05:36)
This is Gastonia Sheet Metal [Goods and 00:05:36] Services. I have two technicians on that location. I just had one call me screaming that he had been shot, and the other technician has also been shot and not responsive.

911 Operator #1: (05:36)
All right, and how long ago did this happen?

Speaker 4: (05:36)
My technician just called me literally 30 seconds ago.

911 Operator #1: (05:36)
All right, [crosstalk 00:05:37].

Speaker 4: (05:36)
And (beep).

911 Operator #1: (05:36)
All right, so you were saying that you’re at the sheet metal place now?

Speaker 4: (05:40)
I’m in Gastonia right now. We’re a heating and air conditioning company, and my two technicians are there. One just called me.

Speaker 4: (05:40)
He can’t talk. He’s screaming, “I’ve been shot,” and I asked him where the other one is.

Speaker 4: (05:40)
He said he’s laying there, and he’s unresponsive, and he was shot also. I can’t get any other information out of him.

911 Operator #1: (05:40)
All right, bear with me just a second. So you got two of these technicians on scene. You think that both of them have been shot?

Speaker 4: (05:44)

911 Operator #1: (05:44)
And you have no further information?

Speaker 4: (05:45)
No, he’s-

911 Operator #1: (05:45)
I got it.

Speaker 4: (05:45)
One’s down.

911 Operator #1: (06:52)
Do you know the person’s name is that they were going to service?

Speaker 4: (06:54)
Doctor Robert Lesslie. (beep.)

911 Operator #1: (06:55)
They don’t know the status of their health whatsoever?

Speaker 4: (07:17)
No. No, one is not moving. One is non-responsive.

Speaker 4: (07:18)
The other one is talking slurred, and I think he’s been shot in the face or the head or something because he can’t talk. He just keeps saying, “I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot. Call 911. Please, call 911,” and that’s all he keep saying.

911 Operator #1: (07:32)
Okay, what’s the two technicians’ names?

Speaker 4: (08:09)

911 Operator #1: (08:09)
All right, and the person’s name who made the service request?

Speaker 4: (08:09)
Doctor Robert Lesslie.

911 Operator #1: (08:15)
Robert Lesslie?

Speaker 4: (08:15)

911 Operator #1: (08:28)
Okay. All right, [inaudible 00:08:29] property [inaudible 00:08:35].

Speaker 4: (08:34)

911 Operator #1: (08:35)
All right, and this is not characteristic of them at all?

Speaker 4: (08:37)
No, they had been shot. I mean, they didn’t do the shooting. They’d been shot.

911 Operator #1: (08:39)
Okay, I was just making sure that it’s not characteristic of them to do prank calls or anything [inaudible 00:08:39].

Speaker 4: (08:39)
No. No. [Crosstalk 00:08:39].

911 Operator #1: (08:39)

Speaker 4: (08:39)

911 Operator #1: (08:42)
[crosstalk 00:08:42]. Okay, and your name please? (beep.) All right, I have to create [inaudible 00:08:49] here. all right, I have 704 (beep.).

Speaker 4: (08:49)

911 Operator #1: (08:49)
All right, I’ve got police and EMS both on the way, okay? If you have any contact back with those people, just-

Speaker 4: (08:54)

911 Operator #1: (08:54)
… just tell them to remain there and say, “Wait, we do have help coming to you as quickly as we can, lights and siren,” okay?

Speaker 4: (08:54)
All right, thank you.

911 Operator #1: (08:54)
All right, thank you. Bye bye.

Speaker 4: (08:54)
Bye bye.

Recorded Voice: (08:56)
April 7th [inaudible 00:08:56] seven seconds.

Speaker 8: (08:56)
[crosstalk 00:08:56].

Recorded Voice: (08:56)
… seven, 2021, 15 hours, 46 minutes, seven seconds.

Speaker 8: (08:56)
[crosstalk 00:08:56].

911 Operator #2: (08:56)
York County 911. Do you need police, fire, or medical?

Speaker 8: (08:56)

911 Operator #2: (08:56)
Where to?

Speaker 8: (08:56)

911 Operator #2: (08:56)

Speaker 8: (08:56)
Yes, ma’am. I think we’ve had some trouble at 4456 Marshall Road-

911 Operator #2: (09:46)
What’s going on on Marshall Road?

Speaker 8: (09:49)
I think there’s been a bad shooting, maybe four people.

911 Operator #2: (09:52)
Okay, so you think four people have been shot?

Speaker 8: (09:52)
I believe so. I was cutting grass out in the yard, and I heard shots.

911 Operator #2: (09:52)
How many shots did you hear?

Speaker 8: (09:52)
About 20. It was automatic. I think there’s two outside, two workers outside, and Mrs. Lesslie’s on the inside of the house.

911 Operator #2: (10:15)
Are you over there with them, or are you on a neighboring property?

Speaker 8: (10:26)
I’m on the property, but I’m away from the house because the guy walked out of the house. I’m quite sure I seen him from a distance.

Speaker 8: (10:36)
It looked like a black guy in black clothes carrying something red out of the house, and I’m on the other side of the property now. If the police or something come, I’ll go over there with them, but I don’t want to go back to the house.

911 Operator #2: (10:51)
Yeah, don’t go over to the house.

Speaker 8: (10:51)
Okay. I-

911 Operator #2: (10:51)
Can you see any of the people, anybody outside?

Speaker 8: (11:07)
I saw one laying on the ground. It looked like one of the workers that they got working for them, heating and air guy.

Speaker 8: (11:10)
It looks like he’s laying on the ground. I saw the guy running around, and I heard the popping, but I didn’t realize it was shooting until I saw this guy laying on the ground.

Speaker 3: (11:16)
Again, these are the 911 calls made [inaudible 00:11:16] yesterday’s shooting.

911 Operator #2: (11:17)
All right, sir, can I get your name? [inaudible 00:11:33].

Speaker 8: (11:17)

911 Operator #2: (11:17)
And (beep.)

Speaker 8: (11:45)
No, ma’am. No, ma’am. I’m calling from (beep) went and called 911. I came over here. He’s another worker that works here at the place.

911 Operator #2: (11:58)
All right, is this an okay phone number for me to give you all a call back?

Speaker 8: (12:01)
Yes, ma’am.

911 Operator #2: (12:09)
All right, (beep.). [crosstalk 00:12:09]. [inaudible 00:12:09].

Speaker 8: (12:12)
No, ma’am. I can’t [inaudible 00:12:12]. I’m shocked. I’m 80 years old.

911 Operator #2: (12:35)
All right, where on their property are you at?

Speaker 8: (12:35)
At the house. If you come to the arch, I’ll meet them at the arch. It’s 4456-

911 Operator #2: (12:35)
No [crosstalk 00:12:35]-

Speaker 8: (12:35)
Marshall Road.

911 Operator #2: (12:35)
I don’t need you meet our deputies. I don’t need you to get close to the situation, okay? We don’t want you to get hurt.

Speaker 8: (12:35)
I’m not going to be. I’m almost a half a mile from the situation.

911 Operator #2: (12:35)
All right, I’ll let them know. I’ve got the deputies on the way.

Speaker 8: (12:35)
Okay. You can call another number too.

911 Operator #2: (12:35)

Speaker 8: (12:35)
It’s (beep.).

911 Operator #2: (12:35)
All right, thank you, sir.

Speaker 8: (12:35)
That’s my cell phone. I’ll let you go.

911 Operator #2: (12:55)
All right, thank you.

Speaker 8: (13:01)
Thank you. Bye bye.

Recorded Voice: (13:02)
April 7th.

Kevin Tolson: (13:06)
So the long beeps that you heard were just redactions of names and phone numbers that we obviously didn’t want to be out there in public. So our first deputies arrived on the scene eight minutes after those two 911 calls.

Kevin Tolson: (13:23)
It’s a large area, and we began to assist the victims that we encountered. The first two victims obviously that we encountered were the two air conditioning techs who were outside the home in the driveway at their work vans.

Kevin Tolson: (13:36)
Then we immediately began to assemble the team to clear the house of Dr. Robert Lesslie. Once we cleared the home, we found Dr. Robert Lesslie and his wife, Barbara, and their two grandchildren in a room in the back of the house, all deceased with gunshot wounds.

Kevin Tolson: (13:55)
One living victim, one of the air conditioning techs, was transported from the scene to EMS who could not make it to the area by our deputies in a personally owned vehicle that was on the property, a truck. Shortly after arriving on scene, we requested our unmanned aerial system, or our drones, and also our K9 unit immediately to respond as well as the state law enforcement division’s helicopter for aerial support.

Kevin Tolson: (14:24)
Once the investigation began, we were able to develop Phillip Adams as a suspect in this incident. We also learned that Mr. Adams lived close to where this incident took place just down the road, about a quarter of a mile, maybe a little more.

Kevin Tolson: (14:43)
We were able later on in the evening to make contact with Mr. Adams’s father, who lived with the suspect at the time. We were able to remove Mr. Adams and later Mrs. Adams from the home as we had a search warrant for the home and for Phillip Adams.

Kevin Tolson: (15:00)
At around 2:30 AM, we confirmed that Mr. Adams, Mr. Phillip Adams, that the suspect was deceased in a bedroom in the home. As I said before, and as Trent said, we’re 22 hours into this investigation.

Kevin Tolson: (15:16)
We’ve gathered a lot of information. We have a lot more information to gather as to the why, and my two priorities here are, number one, to assure the citizens and the community in York County that an armed man who just shot six people is not on the loose.

Kevin Tolson: (15:36)
I assure the community that that is the case. We feel like that we have the individual who’s responsible for this and that he is deceased.

Kevin Tolson: (15:46)
My second priority is to families, respect for their privacy and their grieving process. A little bit of information that I have about the suspect is that we issued several traffic citations by our traffic unit in February of 2021.

Kevin Tolson: (16:02)
Those were minor charges, and then he has some pending criminal charges from 2016 that occurred in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Information about those traffic citations are in your packets.

Kevin Tolson: (16:16)
I can’t go without thanking our partners in law enforcement, the state law enforcement division, the Rock Hill Police Department, the state law enforcement division, the Department of Homeland Security, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the Chester County Sheriff’s office, and the many, many, many surrounding agencies who made contact with me and made contact with us throughout the evening to offer their assistance.

Kevin Tolson: (16:39)
We could not have had a successful investigation that we did without those folks’s help. And at this time, I’ll entertain some questions, and please be aware that there’s no much more information that the family has been given or that we really know at this time.

Speaker 10: (16:56)
Sheriff, was Adams a patient of Dr. Lesslie’s?

Kevin Tolson: (17:01)
We have not been able to verify that.

Speaker 11: (17:03)
Did he shoot and kill himself? You said you guys found him deceased with a gunshot [crosstalk 00:17:06].

Kevin Tolson: (17:05)
Yeah, self-inflicted gunshot. We believe it to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Kevin Tolson: (17:09)
To my left is coroner Sabrina [Gast 00:17:11], and any questions that might be directed about the pathological situation or circumstances of Mr. Adams or cause of death can be directed to her. And behind her is our solicitor, Kevin Brackett, who was on scene last night as well. Andrew?

Speaker 12: (17:30)
Sheriff, I have a question. Can you talk about what evidence was found in the house?

Speaker 12: (17:34)
Was anything stolen or taken? And is it true that the suspect left a cell phone in the house in the crime scene?

Kevin Tolson: (17:43)
So we have not been able to determine that anything was taken from the Lesslie’s residence, and all I’m able to say right now is that we did recover evidence at the scene that linked Mr. Adams to that area definitively.

Speaker 12: (18:05)
So if I may just follow up… I know other people have questions… can you say definitively or generally how Mr. Adams was developed so quickly as the suspect so that you knew where you were going from there?

Kevin Tolson: (18:19)
By evidence that he left at the scene that we were able to immediately identify and connect to him. Yes, sir.

Speaker 13: (18:27)
When you got there to serve the warrants, had he already killed himself by then, or were you guys still trying to negotiate his surrender and then he pulled the trigger?

Kevin Tolson: (18:35)
So we did not hear any gunshots. We did try to negotiate and get him out of the room that he was in. We did not receive what we believe to be an adequate response.

Kevin Tolson: (18:46)
So that’s speculative as to whether or not he had already shot himself, or he shot himself as we were arriving or while we were on scene. We did not hear any gunshots once we arrived at that house?

Speaker 13: (18:58)
And did his parents believe that he was alive last time they saw him or when they-

Kevin Tolson: (19:02)
That is what was relayed to us at the time. Yes, sir.

Speaker 10: (19:06)
Were the parents aware of what happened?

Kevin Tolson: (19:09)
At the time, no. Yes, sir.

Speaker 19: (19:11)
Any indication of how he got into the home? Did he break in, or how did he get into that house?

Kevin Tolson: (19:15)
I will tell you he forced entry. Yes, sir.

Speaker 15: (19:19)
Sheriff, we’re hearing this is a situation where maybe he was cut off from medication, that he was a patient of the doctor. Is that anything you’re looking into or can confirm?

Kevin Tolson: (19:27)
Can’t confirm it, no indication of it, and that’s certainly something we are looking into. Again, I think the first question I was asked, was there a doctor patient relationship? We have no indication right now that there was a doctor patient relationship between Dr. Lesslie and Phillip Adams.

Speaker 14: (19:42)
Representative Ralph Norman told media outlets that that was the case inside of law enforcement. So you are not the law enforcement that he would be citing?

Kevin Tolson: (19:50)
No, ma’am. Yes, ma’am.

Speaker 11: (19:54)
This is actually for the coroner, for Sabrina. I know that Adams died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Can you tell us where on the body he shot himself?

Sabrina Gast: (20:05)
I’d prefer not to at this point.

Kevin Tolson: (20:07)
I think I’ve already told the [inaudible 00:20:10].

Sabrina Gast: (20:12)
Oh, did you? Okay, I’m sorry. It was a single gunshot wound to the head.

Speaker 10: (20:16)
Can you talk about the condition of the living victim?

Kevin Tolson: (20:22)
Very critical. That was the last report that we had this morning.

Speaker 11: (20:26)
Were there others in the house at the time, in addition to the five who were killed and the one who is still-

Kevin Tolson: (20:33)
No, we believe that there were the two air conditioning techs outside and then Dr. Lesslie and his wife and two grandchildren inside the home.

Speaker 15: (20:40)
Sheriff, the 911 call, the second one referenced as many as 20 shots. Does the evidence on scene bear that out?

Kevin Tolson: (20:48)
I don’t know about 20 but definitely multiple gunshots.

Speaker 11: (20:56)
Do we know what kind of weapon was used?

Kevin Tolson: (20:56)
Yeah, there were two types of weapons. One was a .45, and the other was a nine millimeter.

Speaker 18: (21:01)
Sheriff, are you able to say how exactly Adams obtained those weapons? Was it legally, illegally?

Kevin Tolson: (21:05)
Well, we don’t have any indication that they were illegally obtained.

Speaker 19: (21:09)
Was there anything found at the home where he was staying that might shed some light as to why he did this or any other evidence?

Kevin Tolson: (21:17)
Not right now. We don’t have anything right now. There’s nothing about this right now that makes sense to any of us, and that’s why we’re working so hard to try to get more information.

Speaker 13: (21:27)
When he left the scene, did he go to anywhere else, like maybe a nearby church to try to get in there, or did he go anywhere? Do you know his whereabouts between the two houses?

Kevin Tolson: (21:35)
We don’t believe so. Based on what we’ve been able to piece together so far, we don’t believe so.

Speaker 10: (21:41)
Do you know how long Adams was living with his parents?

Kevin Tolson: (21:44)
I don’t.

Speaker 16: (21:46)
Do you know anything about his medical history, concussions, anything of that nature?

Kevin Tolson: (21:50)
No, I don’t.

Speaker 14: (21:51)
Were the kids living there, or did they come from out of town?

Speaker 1: (21:56)
The children who were deceased? They lived on the same property in Dr. Lesslie’s son and daughter-in-law’s house.

Speaker 3: (22:05)
Two more questions.

Speaker 20: (22:06)
Sir, Mr. Lesslie was a big part of this community. If you could take your sheriff’s hat off for a second, how has their deaths impacted you personally?

Kevin Tolson: (22:17)
Dr. Lesslie was a pillar in this community with what he was able to give back to this community. He was a long time doctor.

Kevin Tolson: (22:28)
He had treated me in the past at his clinic. He was very involved in law enforcement with providing space for the [SANE 00:22:43] nurses to do sexual assault exams on sexual assault victims, very involved in that.

Kevin Tolson: (22:49)
And so we tend to eulogize and canonize folks, and it kind of waters it down, but I would not want to water down anything that Dr. Lesslie did or meant for this community. He knew everyone.

Kevin Tolson: (23:05)
He treated everyone with respect. And if you reflect on the family statement, that is the type of family that Dr. Lesslie raised because that’s the type of man he was.

Speaker 21: (23:14)

Speaker 3: (23:14)
Last question.

Speaker 21: (23:14)
… where does the investigation go from here? What’s next for you guys?

Kevin Tolson: (23:18)
Well, we’ve been back out to the scene today to try to look in more daylight, and really, why. If we can succeed in that, in answering some why questions, it will certainly relieve the minds of the families that have been affected and put some closure for us to this investigation.

Kevin Tolson: (23:41)
And if you look behind you, many of the men and women who were involved with this yesterday and last night are here today. Some of them have not been to bed yet, and we continuously and tirelessly continue to work for the Shook family and for the Lesslie family.

Kevin Tolson: (23:57)
And I would just ask that you keep those families in your prayers as well as the Adams family. With that, thank you.

Speaker 4: (24:05)
If you have not put your name on this list, do so before you leave. We’re going to give you the copies of the 911 phone calls via email.

Speaker 4: (24:15)
They’re small files, so it should come up in your email address box. And also, we’ll have the citations that we gave to Mr. Adams back in February, just because some of you asked for those already.

Speaker 11: (24:31)
Will you also have the family’s statement available [crosstalk 00:24:32]?

Speaker 4: (24:31)
We can provide that, yes.

Speaker 11: (24:32)
Thank you. That would be great.

Speaker 4: (24:34)
We’ll add the family statement to that.

Speaker 11: (24:34)
Thank you.

Speaker 4: (24:36)
[crosstalk 00:24:36] Anything else? Make sure your name is on this list, or you’re not going to get it.

Speaker 4: (24:41)
Okay? Thank you all for being here, and thank you for your patience. [crosstalk 00:24:46].

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