Father of former football player who killed 6 in Rock Hill sues son’s university

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The father of a former football player who shot and killed six people at a Rock Hill home has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university his son attended.

Alonzo Adams, who is the father of the late Phillip Adams, filed the lawsuit against South Carolina State University for the benefit of Phillip’s surviving son.

Phillip Adams killed six people at Rock Hill home back in 2021. The victims included Dr. Robert Lesslie, a prominent York County doctor, his wife, two of their grandchildren, and two HVAC technicians. Adams then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In the lawsuit, Alonzo Adams claims the school’s “negligence, carelessness, recklessness and willfulness” led to his son’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and ultimately, his death.

Channel 9 reported Adams was diagnosed with CTE after his death.


The lawsuit states that Adams played for South Carolina State from 2006 to 2009 and sustained head trauma during that time. He also played in the NFL from 2011 to 2015 with various teams, where he also sustained head trauma, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that South Carolina State failed to educate Adams or its staff members about concussions and head trauma. It also states the school failed to adhere to general safety practices.

Alonzo Adams is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

The university told Channel 9 that it does not comment on current or pending litigation.

‘I don’t want another family to go through this’

The father of James Lewis, one of the HVAC technicians who was killed in the shooting, told Ch. 9′s Anthony Kustura he supports the lawsuit if it creates changes to save lives.

“I don’t want another family to go through this,” Tom Lewis said. “I don’t want somebody to lose somebody that they cherish and love because of something like this.”

The lawsuit also states Adams left behind a child who’s suffered “mental shock and anguish” because of his father’s death.

Lewis says he and his whole family can relate.

“I not only lost my child, I lost my best friend,” Lewis said. “It has torn everybody up and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.”

Lewis says he hopes to make his voice heard on this because in January, doctors diagnosed him with stage-four liver failure.

“I have no energy,” Lewis said.

Lewis says he doesn’t know how much longer he has left but wants to try to keep any other families from experiencing this level of pain.

“It’s the legacy of my son, you know? It is why he is gone,” Lewis said.


(WATCH BELOW: Who is Robert Lesslie, well-known doctor killed in South Carolina mass shooting?)