Brain of ex-NFL player accused of shooting 5 to death in South Carolina before committing suicide to be ‘studied for CTE’


YORK COUNTY, S.C. (FOX 46) – The brain of former NFL player Phillip Adams, who police say fatally shot and killed five people in York County before committing suicide, will be probed for trauma-related harm, according to the York County Coroner’s Office.

The autopsy of Adams is scheduled to be conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, the Coroner’s Office said on Friday.

Routine forensic autopsies do not identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

“We have contacted Boston University and they will be working with us to conduct a brain study to identify if Mr. Adams had CTE. We are unsure of the time frame for results at this time,” they said.

CTE is the term used to describe brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas. CTE is a diagnosis made only at autopsy by studying sections of the brain. CTE is a very rare disorder that is not yet well understood. CTE has a complex relationship to head traumas such as post-concussion syndrome and second impact syndrome that occur earlier in life, according to the Mayo Clinic.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Adams shot and killed Dr. Robert Lesslie, his wife, Barbara Lesslie, their two grandchildren, Adah and Noah, and James Lewis who was working at the home.

Another person who was at the house working on the air conditioner, Robert Shook, has been identified as the lone survivor and is receiving treatment at the hospital.

The Coroner’s Office said Adams was found deceased by police following a standoff early Thursday morning. His cause of death has been declared a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Adams played college football at South Carolina State before a six-year NFL career. He most recently played for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, according to his NFL biography.  

According to a report by Bay Area SB Nation, Adams had suffered from at least two concussions during separate games in 2012, one from an Oakland Raiders and Chiefs match-up.

This case remains open and ongoing, the York County Sheriff’s Office said.

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