Robertson suspended from Illini football team, faces weapons charges

John Supinie

Suspended Illinois linebacker Erique Robertson pleaded not guilty to weapons charges Monday after he allegedly fired a handgun early Sunday in the parking lot of a bar near campus.

Robertson, a freshman, was suspended indefinitely from the Illini football team Sunday after his arrest. He was arraigned in Champaign County court Monday on charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, reckless discharge of a firearm, obstructing justice and aggravated battery.

According to a report by Champaign police, Robertson was seen shooting the handgun outside of Ellusions on Clark Street in Campustown at 1:45 a.m. and was taken into custody. No injuries were reported.

Reckless discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon are Class 4 felonies. Robertson is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing March 11 and could face up to three years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Monday in an e-mail the reckless discharge of a firearm count resulted from Robertson endangering the safety of others. Rietz said Robertson carried a concealed weapon without identification, and the gun was uncased, loaded and immediately accessible.

Illinois coach Ron Zook could move quickly in determining Robertson's status. When Zook learned of the involvement of receivers Jody Ellis and Derrick McPhearson in a burglary arrest and investigation last spring, Zook immediately kicked them off the team.

Robertson, of Maple Heights, Ohio, arrived on campus for the spring semester in 2007. In his freshman season last fall, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Robertson made three tackles while playing in seven games.

Zook released a statement Sunday night.

"There is a certain conduct that members of our team will adhere to, and when our players don't behave in that way there will be consequences,'' Zook said. "We will continue to closely evaluate Erique's situation.''

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