Bears brass was busy dealing with the team's biggest distraction of the season on Friday afternoon, yet nobody could have anticipated the next twist in the story.
Just one day after being brought up on weapons charges, defensive tackle Tank Johnson was involved in a shooting inside Ice Bar, a trendy River North nightclub. Johnson's alleged roommate and bodyguard, Willie B. Posey, was shot and killed in the early hours of Saturday morning. It has been confirmed that Johnson was indeed present when the shooting took place and was filmed leaving Northwestern Memorial Hospital where Posey was later pronounced dead.
The Bears organization released a brief statement at about 10:35 on Saturday morning:
"We are aware of the shooting that occurred in a downtown club last night. We are currently gathering information to learn more about the situation."
Johnson had his residence in the north-Chicago suburb of Gurnee raided late Thursday morning by police. Authorities had obtained a search warrant, and officers found what they were looking for despite the raid only lasting six minutes. Six unregistered guns - including two military-style assault rifles - were discovered in addition to a felony amount of marijuana.
Johnson was at the Bears facility in Lake Forest at the time of the raid. Johnson's girlfriend, their two young children, and Posey were at the residence at the time. Posey was led away in handcuffs and charged with felony marijuana possession.
Later Thursday afternoon, Johnson was escorted away from Halas Hall by a team security official and turned himself in to Gurnee police. The former Washington Huskie was charged with six counts of possession of a firearm without a Firearm Owner's Identification card. Johnson was later released after posting a $1,000 bond, and Posey - a convicted felon - was also released after posting a $10,000 bond.
Johnson has had various run-ins with the law in the past. 13 months ago, he pled guilty to another gun-related charge when a valet discovered a weapon inside Johnson's vehicle. As part of his punishment, he was put on probation for 18 months, which has not yet lapsed.
Then this past February, Johnson scuffled with a police officer outside a Chicago nightclub in the popular Rush-and-Division area of downtown. However, those charges were later dropped. The officer involved in the incident decided not to pursue the case any further.
Less than 12 hours before the shooting, Johnson spoke with reporters at Halas Hall on Friday for the first time after his arrest on gun charges.
“The first thing that I would like to say is that I apologize to the Bears organization, my teammates, and my family for causing a distraction that I did cause this week,” Johnson said. “Obviously, that’s not my intention. My main focus is on this championship season and how well we’re doing. I hate to be a deterrent from all the good that’s going on here at Halas Hall.”
Head coach Lovie Smith decided to deactivate Johnson on Friday for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers, although Smith was adament that this was not a disciplinary action. General manager Jerry Angelo was noticeably upset when speaking to reporters on Friday and hinted that Johnson was on thin ice with the organization.
Johnson's future in Chicago was in jeopardy even before the shooting, so he may very well have played his last game in a Bears uniform.
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