Police: Johnson was at club during fatal shooting

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears nose tackle Tank Johnson, already facing weapons charges after a raid on his home, is not responsible for the deadly shooting of his friend inside a nightclub, the player's lawyer said Saturday.

Johnson was cooperating with the investigation into Willie B. Posey's death Saturday, but police have asked him not to discuss the shooting, attorney Thomas Briscoe said.

"Tank Johnson has absolutely no responsibility for this tragic shooting," Briscoe said. "He lost a very close friend."

Police talked to Johnson at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Posey was pronounced dead early Saturday, Police Superintendent Phil Cline said.

Posey, 26, died after a fight inside Ice Bar, a club in the trendy River North neighborhood, Cline said. No one was in custody and the gun was not recovered, Cline added. He said it appears one shot was fired.

The shooting occurred about 12 hours after Johnson offered a public apology to teammates and family for his third arrest in the past 18 months. Briscoe said he did not know why Johnson was at the club.

There was "no information to link him to anything that occurred at the bar at this point in the investigation," police spokesman Monique Bond said.

The Bears said Saturday they were aware of the shooting, but didn't mention Johnson.

"We are currently gathering information to learn more about the situation," a team statement said.

Bears coach Lovie Smith had decided before Posey's death that Johnson would be inactive for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. Johnson is to appear in court Jan. 9, which would be several days before the NFC North champion Bears play their first postseason game.

When police arrived at the Ice Bar about 1:30 a.m., they found Posey sprawled inside, Bond said. He was shot in the left shoulder, Cline said.

No one at the bar returned a telephone message left Saturday by The Associated Press.

Posey said in court this week he was Johnson's bodyguard. The medical examiner listed Posey's address as Johnson's home in suburban Gurnee.

Johnson and Posey were arrested this week following a raid at Johnson's home. Posey was arrested Thursday on a count of felony cannabis possession. He was released after posting $10,000 bond and had been scheduled to return to court Dec. 21.

Johnson was not home during the search, but later surrendered and was arrested on misdemeanor weapons charges because six unregistered firearms were found at his residence, police said. He was released after posting 10 percent of his $1,000 bond.

Two weapons seized from Johnson's home were assault-style rifles and three were powerful handguns, Gurnee Police Chief Robert Jones said.

In November 2005, Johnson was sentenced to 18 months' probation and 40 hours of community service. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from an arrest in which a nightclub valet reported seeing Johnson with a handgun in his sport utility vehicle.

Johnson also was arrested last February after a confrontation outside a Chicago nightclub. The charges were dropped after the police officer he allegedly scuffled with decided not to pursue the case.