The prominent South Carolina doctor — one of five people, including two children, who was allegedly killed by a former NFL player late Wednesday — wrote a powerful message just months ago about his hopes for when he reaches Heaven.
Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, was fatally shot late Wednesday along with his wife, 69-year-old Barbara. Two of their grandchildren, ages 5 and 9 were also killed as was James Lewis, a 38-year-old man who had been working at the Lesslie’s home near Rock Hill, the York County coroner’s office and sheriff’s office officials said Thursday.
The Associated Press cited a person familiar with the investigation in identifying the shooter as being former NFL player Phillip Adams, who killed himself early Thursday.
The Lesslies were pronounced dead in their home, while Lewis, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside. A sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” York County Sheriff’s Office’s spokesperson Trent Faris said.
Following news of the tragedy, a person who identified themself as Dr. Lesslie’s administrator shared a passage that Lesslie appeared to have written on his website in December 2020. He described what he expected to find upon his death, whenever it would happen.
“One day, when I depart this body and find myself in the presence of the Lord, my time, however it will be measured, will be filled with the praises and the wonder of Jesus,” he wrote. I know that I will once again be able to hug my mother and walk and talk with my father.”
The post was named after the Lesslies’ dog, named “Doxology,” or “Dox” for short, who had recently passed away at the time. In the passage, Lesslie wrote about friends and loved ones whom he looked forward to meeting.
He wrote that no one knows what Heaven will look like – “only that it will be perfect.”
“And because of that I know that one day, when I’ve experienced the presence and joy of that surrounding host of saints, I will find myself walking with Barbara in a field of lush, green grass, surrounded by gently rising conifer-cloaked hills,” he wrote. “And there will come Dox, charging towards us, his ears flapping in the breeze, his golden hair and majestic tail waving in the wind, and both of his laughing, dancing eyes meeting ours.”
Deputies were called around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday to the Lesslies’ home, which is a distance up a driveway from an arched stone gate, and not visible from the road. Neighbors were evacuated by the deputies in order to search with police dogs for the suspect.
Allison Hope, who lives across from Adams’ modest one-story brick home, about a mile down the road from the Lesslies, said police allowed her to return home around 9 p.m. Wednesday. Moments later, a vehicle pulled into their driveway and law enforcement quickly surrounded the property.
She said they spent hours negotiating with Adams, using a loudspeaker and sending in a robot to scan the house. She said authorities repeatedly asked Adams to come out, and promised to get his disabled mother out safely, before Adams shot himself. He reportedly killed himself after midnight with a .45-caliber weapon.
“This is something I can’t grasp yet. I can’t put it all together and I’m trying to, and I witnessed it,” Hope said. “I feel bad for him because if it was mental or something going on in his life or whatever, you know, he needed help, and that’s the sad part.”
The York County Sheriff’s Office said they had searched for hours before finding the suspect in a nearby home.
According to his agent, Scott Casterline, Adams often isolated himself, even as a player. From 2010 to 2015 he played for six teams: the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Atlanta Falcons.
Adams’ parents live near the doctor’s home in Rock Hill, and the former NFL cornerback had been treated by Dr. Lesslie, according to the AP.
Early Thursday, sheriff’s department spokesperson Faris said he knew Dr. Lesslie having been a patient of the slain doctor and called him “one of those people that everybody knows.”
Faris revealed that Lesslie “started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and it’s been a staple in Rock Hill for years.”
Lesslie had worked for decades as an emergency room doctor, board-certified in both emergency medicine and occupational medicine. He also served as the emergency department medical director at Rock Hill General Hospital for nearly 15 years, according to his website.
In addition, he founded two urgent care centers, wrote a weekly medical column for The Charlotte Observer, and also wrote a book, “Angels in the ER,” collecting what he termed “inspiring true stories” from his work. A biography page said he and his wife raised four children
“I know without a doubt that life is fragile,” Lesslie wrote in his book. “I have come to understand that humility may be the greatest virtue. And I am convinced we need to take the time to say the things we deeply feel to the people we deeply care about.”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.
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