Chicago police were searching for a man who reportedly harassed Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson on a nightclub dance floor Saturday morning, sparking a fight that resulted in the shooting death of Johnson's boyhood friend.
Willie B. Posey, also Johnson's bodyguard, died after the fight inside Ice Bar, a club in the trendy River North neighborhood, police said. No one was in custody and the gun had not been recovered.
Witnesses told police that a man repeatedly bumped into Johnson, a source familiar with the investigation told the Chicago Tribune. Posey intervened, the newspapar reported, struck the man, and both fell to the floor. When club security pulled them apart, the other man pulled out a gun and shot Posey, witnesses said.
Johnson initially denied being at the bar, then changed his story as he talked with police early Saturday at Northwestern Memorial hospital -- where Posey was pronounced dead -- and later at his Gurnee home, sources told the newspaper. Police said he was not a suspect.
Johnson's lawyer, Thomas Briscoe, said his client was not directly involved in the shooting. Johnson was cooperating with police, his lawyer said.
"Tank Johnson has absolutely no responsibility for this tragic shooting," Briscoe said. "He lost a very close friend."
Police interviewed several bar patrons and employees through the day, and appeared to be focusing on a suspect who was being questioned at Belmont Area headquarters, a source familiar with the investigation told the Tribune.
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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.