ROCK HILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Lesslie family issued a statement Wednesday on the eve of the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting that left six people dead in Rock Hill.

On April 7, 2021, police said former NFL player Phillip Adams killed Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, their two grandchildren, 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie, at their home on Marshal Road.

Jeff Lesslie, the son of Robert and Barbara, provided the following statement to QCN: 

It has been a year since our community came face to face with the unbelievable.  In the minutes, days, and months since, our family has remained fixed on the eternal hope we have in Christ.  The following statement that we shared after the event remains true to this day.  It has helped to guide us deeper into fellowship with one another in love.  As CS Lewis has said, “come further up, come further in.

On behalf of the Lesslie, Alexander, and Kulbok 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.  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.  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 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.

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.

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.

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 Dr., Greenville, SC 29607) in honor of hope and the promise of eternity.

The Lesslie, Alexander, Kulbok, and Miller families

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 QCN he was shot at least six times.

Following the mass shooting, Adams turned the gun on himself, taking his own life, police said.

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 former NFL star Aaron Hernandez.

According to Dr. McKee, stage II CTE leads to poor impulse control, poor decision-making and paranoia.

“Frontal lobe damage is associated with violent, impulsive or explosive behavior, a ‘short-fuse,’ and lack of self-control,” the doctor said.

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. He retired in 2016 after six seasons in the NFL.

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.

“We want people to understand this could happen to anyone,” the family said in a statement.