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Could two men arrested in Racine be connected to 21 armed robbery incidents?

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RACINE (WITI) -- Racine police say they have arrested two men — one 42 years old, and one 57 years old, after they were reportedly acting suspicious inside a Racine tavern — and then exited the tavern quickly. This, after nearly two dozen robberies at Racine taverns in recent months. So could these two men be responsible for them all?

The simple answer: Most likely not.

Racine police are looking into whether the two men arrested on Tuesday, May 20th are linked to any of the 21 armed robberies of small businesses -- eight of which have targeted Racine and Mount Pleasant bars.

The 21 armed robberies have occurred over the past two months.

Nikki Woods owns the Rhino Bar on N. Main Street in Racine.

Early Tuesday morning, May 20th, around bar time, police say officers on third shift were paying extra attention to the taverns due to the recent armed robberies.

Police say two men walked into the Rhino Bar, wearing all black, including sunglasses and stocking caps.

Officers observed a 42-year-old man and a 57-year-old man quickly exit the Rhino Bar.

Police say the men entered a vehicle and fled the area.

Police say it was then that they were flagged down by a Rhino Bar bartender, who reported the men were exhibiting suspicious behavior inside the bar.

The vehicle the men were in was stopped in the 400 block of Hubbard Street outside of Kenny’s Bar — and the men were arrested.

Officers discovered a duffle bag inside the vehicle — and a short-barreled shotgun.

57-year-old Willie Hayes and 42-year-old Conrese Williams are charged with possession of a short-barreled shotgun, and being felons in possession of a firearm.

So far, the men are not charged in connection with any of the 21 armed robberies in Racine.

Police continue to encourage bar owners to keep doing what the Rhino bar now does -- locking the door at night, and making patrons show their face to get let in.

"We're hard-working people and now it's affecting business. People are afraid to go out," Woods said.

Racine police Crimestoppers says business owners are contributing to a Crimestoppers reward fund for information leading to the arrest of the individuals responsible for these 21 armed robberies.

The reward now stands at $7,000.