Phillip Adams, the former NFL player who allegedly shot and killed five people in South Carolina on Wednesday before killing himself, reportedly will be tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by the county coroner.
Adams will undergo an autopsy by York County coroner Sabrina Gast, who told the Charlotte Observer that Adams' family granted her permission to do the procedure. The coroner’s office reportedly will be working along with Boston University, one of the leading institutions on the study of CTE, during the process.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease often found in people who have suffered repeated brain trauma. It has been found in athletes, particularly among football players. CTE can be diagnosed only postmortem via autopsy.
The results likely will take months to process.
Adams spent six years in the NFL after being drafted in the seventh round in 2010. In his final NFL season, Adams reportedly suffered multiple concussions with the Oakland Raiders in 2012, although it's unknown how many other concussions he may have suffered in his career.
“I can say he was a good kid,” Adams' father, Alonzo, told WCNC in Charlotte. “I think the football messed him up.”
CTE experts also warn that cases vary person to person and that the accumulation of sub-concussive blows also can lead to a CTE diagnosis.
Police said Adams fired as many as 20 bullets, hitting six people (including one victim whose severe wounds are not considered fatal) before turning the gun on himself. Among the victims were an ER doctor, Robert Lesslie, who reportedly treated Adams, along with Lesslie's wife and two grandchildren. A fifth victim who died worked at the house where the shooting occurred.
A report Friday morning indicated that Lesslie may have ceased prescribing him medication prior to the shooting.
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