Police in the northern Chicago suburb of Gurnee raided the house of Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson late Thursday morning.
Johnson, a third-year player out of Washington, has had trouble with the law in the past and is currently on probation. He was not at his home when police arrived. Johnson was at the Bears facility in Lake Forest and refused to talk to reporters in the locker room Thursday afternoon despite the fact that the raid had not been made public yet.
Johnson is being charged with six misdemeanor counts of possession of a firearm without an FOID (firearm owner's identification) card. According to sources familiar with the case, the police were looking for drugs and drug-related items. Johnson was seen being driven by a security guard away from Halas Hall around the time the team finished practice. He did not participate in practice.
Head coach Lovie Smith was made aware of the incident before practice and commented to the media shortly after practice.
"We don't know of any charges, anything like that," Smith said. "I just know that there was a search warrant that was put into play on his home."
Smith was obviously disheartened to hear the news and didn't deny the fact that this situation could cause some negative vibrations for his team.
"We're disappointed in the situation that's come up right now," he continued, "and it's a distraction for the team and all that. But again, I'll get more details and go from there."
The Bears are already missing their other starting defensive tackle, All-Pro Tommie Harris. After sustaining what was originally believed to be a sprained left knee against the Vikings in Week 13, it was determined that Harris also had a torn left hamstring. He had surgery on Tuesday in Dallas and will miss the rest of the season.
According to the Gurnee police, specific items that were named in the search warrant were found at Johnson's residence. The raid only lasted six minutes. There were four people in the house when police arrived, two adults and two children. Their relationship to Johnson is unclear at this time.
Officers with the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System were also present and assisted the Gurnee Police during the raid.
Johnson has had several run-ins with the law and is currently on probation. Apparently, neighbors have complained to police on several occasions about guns being fired on the property. Several pit bulls owned by Johnson have also been the subject of neighbor complaints.
Smith said that Johnson is cooperating with the law and doing what he can to clear up this matter as soon as possible.
"Tank is in the process right now of trying to get information also," he said, "and that's about all we know right now."
Considering Johnson's checkered history with the law, Smith acknowledges that his defensive tackle could be in big trouble.
"It definitely is a concern because Tank has had to deal with some things like this in the past," he said. "Yes, it definitely is a concern."
Theoretically, Johnson could see jail time for violating the terms of his probation. However, it will take some time for the law to run its course, and any potential conviction probably would not occur until well after the season.
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