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VERIFY: No diagnosis of CTE nor confirmation of drug use in Rock Hill shooting suspect

With his background as an athlete and injury history, many online have speculated Phillip Adams had CTE or was motivated by drugs. Here is what is confirmed.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The York County Sheriff's Office says former NFL player Phillip Adams is the shooter who took the lives of six people in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Wednesday evening.

Authorities have not released any information about a possible motive, and York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said Thursday afternoon that there is "no indication" Adams had a patient-doctor relationship with one of the victims, Dr. Robert Lesslie.


Following revelations of Adams's football background and injury history, many online have speculated that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) or steroid or drug-use tied to past injury was somehow related to what happened.


According to the York County Coroner's Office, Routine forensic autopsies do not identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. York County has contacted Boston University and they will be working with them to conduct a brain study to identify if Adams had CTE. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CTE is a brain disease that can happen after repeated concussions and head trauma. The injuries can change how the brain works, causing changes in mood, behavior, memory, even movement.

While there is a record of two concussions during Adams's football career and Alonzo Adams, his father, told WCNC Charlotte he thought football had something to do with the horrific events, the CDC states that doctors have to diagnose CTE by checking a person's brain after they have died.

The York County coroner reports that an autopsy is still pending. So for now, it is not possible to verify the CTE claim.


As for the drugs and steroids claims, the coroner also states that a toxicology report is still pending. When asked if Adams had been cut off from any medication (and if Adams and Lesslie had a patient-doctor relationship), Sheriff Tolson said, "Can't confirm it. No indication of it, but that's something we're certainly looking into."

For now, this claim is unverified too.

Editor's Note: On Saturday, April 10, the sole survivor in the deadly Rock Hill shooting died from his injuries, according to the York County Coroner. Despite being shot several times, Robert Shook was able to call his supervisor at GSM Services, who then made the first 911 call related to the shooting. Shook leaves behind three children.


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