Former NFL Cornerback Phillip Adams, Murder-Suicide

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Raiders DB Phillip Adams #28, via Wikipedia

Phillip Adams, 32, has been named as the suspected perpetrator of the mass shooting murder of 5 people in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The former NFL Cornerback played for six teams, last with the Falcons in 2015. He did know at least one of the victims, according to reports.

The victims were Dr. Robert Lesslie, who reports say treated Adams at some point in time, his wife Barbara, two of their grandchildren, and a man working at the doctor’s home at the time, 39 year old James Lewis. Adams’ parents live in or around Rock Hill, so a familial and geographic connection also exists.

Phillip Adams then committed suicide.

Another “Mass Shooting” by definition?

That’s a very interesting narrative, or rather lack thereof. By the MAPS parameters the killing probably does not qualify, it was a home invasion. The number of dead and injured does qualify by both the MAPS and more vague general definitions

But nobody is calling it a mass shooting. Despite the five dead, despite two of the dead being young children, this story is being pushed along the narrative lines that it is a “simple” murder-suicide. We know the likely primary victim, Dr. Lesslie himself, was acquainted with Adams. This makes the more likely motives come from the ‘personal grievance’ category. A crime this brutal is very often emotionally driven. Adams may have put blame on Dr. Lesslie for some slight or failure, real or imagined hardly matters. It might be tied to whatever treatment Adams received under Lesslie’s care.

Nothing firm is known however, the grievance motives are simply the most likely on the plausibility scale, given what we do know.

But I return to the fact that this murder of 5 is not being touted about as a ‘mass shooting’ and is instead being narratively pushed as a multiple homicide, and then suicide. Why? This isn’t meant to be a loaded question with an obvious answer, it is meant to be a leading question to wonder why the powers that push these narratives fail to give this level of nuance to other shootings.

I, in fact, agree that this shooting does not qualify as a mass shooting. It is a home invasion and brutal multiple homicide, yes. But it does not exhibit the public or semi-public locale and more generalized targeting of a mass shooting. The feel of the circumstances is highly targeted, it feels deliberately retaliatory, a way to punish Dr. Lesslie for some wrong Adams felt needed punishing.

But certain mass killings, certain mass attacks in the MAPS report, also had deliberate targets for retaliation and ended up either with other casualties or took their violent recourse in a public space.

What we are continuing to see is that ‘Mass Shooting’ is a loaded term (no pun intended, but accepted anyway) and that when it is narratively suspect, because the suspect in the shooting is in some way ‘too human’ to rubber stamp as a mass shooter, we instead see a narrative that is more nuanced. In this case, Phillip Adams is a far more public figure than normally associated with an event like this, a professional athlete who played for years in the NFL. He’s not a loaner basement dwelling white guy nobody, nor is he a known quantity gang banger who was shooting other gang bangers. Both of those situations would result in a their own storied narratives or, again, lack thereof.

Any shooting they can capitalize upon is immediately dragged forward, because it fits the unnuanced narrative of crazy gun toting terrorists of pale complexion that seems popular right now. Any shooting that doesn’t, to include suicides, gets stripped of all detail in its critical examination and thrown onto the giant amorphous pile labeled “Gun Violence” to drag out when they need the big scary number (never compared to other COD numbers unless they can leverage it to sound scarier).

This highly suspect “analysis” and reporting doesn’t advance anyone’s safety.



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