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Autopsy of ex-NFL player who fatally shot five people and himself to include CTE study


The brain of Phillip Adams, the former NFL player identified as the gunman who killed five people Wednesday in Rock Hill, S.C., will be examined for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease found in dozens of former players.

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Forensic autopsies typically do not identify CTE, but York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said her office will work with Boston University, whose CTE center has studied the disease for more than a decade, to determine if Adams had the disease, she said in a statement.

"The autopsy of Mr. Adams is scheduled to be conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Routine forensic autopsies do not identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). We have contacted Boston University and they will be working with us to conduct a brain study to identify if Mr. Adams had CTE. We are unsure of the time frame for results at this time," she said in the statement.

Adams fatally shot five people and wounded a sixth, according to police in York County, S.C. He took his own life and was found dead inside his father's home after a standoff with police Thursday, according to WCNC, an NBC affiliate in Charlotte, N.C.

A prominent local doctor, his wife and their two young grandchildren are among the five victims of Wednesday's shooting. The fifth victim was working at the family's home at the time of the shooting, and a sixth person was wounded and taken to a hospital.

CTE is a degenerative disease caused by repetitive hits to the head and commonly associated with contact sports, including football. It has affected professional and amateur athletes and has been shown to cause violent mood swings and other cognitive disorders.

Adams's family members have alluded to the potential impact of football on his behavior and mental health in the days since the shooting.

His father, Alonzo, told WCNC on Thursday that his son had been "a good kid. I think the football messed him up."

His sister, Lauren, told USA Today that his behavior abruptly changed and that his "mental health degraded fast and terribly bad," adding that he had been seeing doctors and was pursuing a disability claim through the NFL.

"I know he had been applying for disability and he said they were making it hard for him. And toward the end he felt like they were trying to basically stiff him on money," Lauren Adams said. "I think he got upset about that and that's kind of where it started, with him kind of feeling like the whole world was against him."

Scott Casterline, Adams's agent, told the Associated Press that his former client did not participate in the physical and mental health programs that the NFL offers for ex-players. He described Adams as being "lost without football, somewhat depressed."

Adams was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 and played cornerback for six seasons. He last played for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. He had no previous criminal record.

Published : April 11, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Glynn A. Hill