Phillip Adams’ brain will be tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has been shown to affect several former NFL players to cause violent mood swings and other cognitive disorders, a South Carolina coroner’s office said Friday.
Adams was identified as the suspect after five people were shot and killed Wednesday in a bloody rampage before he turned the gun on himself. A prominent South Carolina doctor, his wife, their two grandchildren and an air-conditioning technician were identified as the victims in the shooting in Rock Hill.
Adams played in the NFL for six seasons with several different teams. He suffered at least two concussions and a broken ankle during his short career.
Adams’ family approved the brain procedure to be included as part of his autopsy, York County Coroner Sabrina Guest said. Medical University of South Carolina will work with Boston University to see whether Adams’ brain was suffering from CTE.
Robert Lesslie reportedly was Adams’ doctor, but York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson denied the two had a doctor-patient relationship.
Police have not identified a motive in the shooting.
Adams’ father, Alonzo, had told WCNC-TV he thought “football messed him up.” Adams’ sister told USA Today that her brother’s “mental health degraded fast and terribly bad” and her family noticed “extremely concerning signs of mental illness.
Whether Adams suffered from CTE will take months to determine.
Former NFL players and boxers have been some of the athletes who have suffered from the brain disease. A 2017 study found signs of CTE in 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains were inspected.
Adams, 32, was the first San Francisco 49ers’ 2010 draft choice to sign his rookie deal. He was selected in the seventh round, but he wouldn’t stay in San Francisco for long.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.