SURVEILLANCE VIDEO: Bar patrons sprayed with chemical irritant a - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

SURVEILLANCE VIDEO: Bar patrons sprayed with chemical irritant after being robbed in local bar

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison police are investigating a bold robbery at an east side bar early Wednesday morning that could be connected to a very similar incident just a few days ago.

Two masked men walked into Players Sports Bar on Winnebago Street around 12:45 a.m. with a gun and a can of an unidentified chemical spray. Surveillance video shows the suspects ordering people to the floor, demanding money from the bartender and taking wallets out of people's pockets.

The suspects were only inside the bar about five minutes. As they left, one man sprayed some sort of chemical irritant into the air. Police still aren't sure what it is but say the Madison Fire Department had to be called to treat victims on scene and ventilate the building. Victims can be seen on film coughing, even outside the building.

"Some sort of pepper spray or bear spray or mace, we're not quite sure what the spray is but the effect is something similar to pepper spray, where people's eyes and noses and mouths are burning," says Madison police spokesperson Joel DeSpain.

Players was open Wednesday as usual, despite the scare. Owner Mark Kroon says he's just happy no one was more seriously hurt.

"They came in to terrorize people and they got what they wanted there, they scared everybody," says Kroon. "Hopefully we'll find these two guys and they won't be able to do this to another establishment."

Police believe this may not have been the pair's first crime. Detectives are investigating whether a very similar incident just down the road from the bar Sunday night could be the work of the same suspects.

Around 11 p.m. two masked men walked into Burrito Drive restaurant on Brearly Street. They showed handguns and stole money from the register. As the suspects fled, they sprayed three restaurant employees with some type of chemical. Those victims reported similar injuries to those at Players: burning eyes, mouths and noses.

DeSpain tells 27 News the same detective is working on both cases, looking for connections.

Suspect descriptions in both cases are similar. The Burrito Drive robbers are described as black males in their twenties, 5'9" to 5'10" tall, weighing 160 to 190 pounds. The men were wearing dark hats, dark clothing and bandanas over their faces.

The suspects in the Players incident are described as black males, 5'9" to 5'10" tall, weighing 180 to 200 pounds. The men were wearing dark hooded sweatshirts and black masks from the nose down.

Police say people across Madison should be vigilant and report any suspicious activity with this unusual crime spree.

"These do seem to be very brazen criminals who are experienced," says DeSpain. "This does not appear to be a first-time robbery for these people."

Kroon tells 27 News he's worried about the rest of the neighborhood and hopes the suspects don't target any other businesses.

Contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014 with any information.


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MADISON (WKOW) -- It's an unusual robbery you don't hear about everyday.

Two suspects spray bar patrons with some form of spray irritant. The incident happened just before 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday and the two suspects are still at large. Madison Police say the robbery happened at Players Sports Bar.

The suspects were armed with some form of chemical spray irritant and they sprayed it at bar patrons after taking their money. The incident happened on the 2000 block of Winnebago Street. Two masked suspects entered the bar from the back door and ordered everyone down on the floor. They robbed patrons of their money. Before leaving the scene, they sprayed them with something similar to pepper spray.

Emergency crews were called to treat patients who had symptoms from the chemical spray. Crews also had to ventilate the bar after the incident.

Police say they're looking for two black men, both around 5 feet 9 inches tall and between 180 and 200 pounds. One suspect was wearing dark clothing with a black mask and armed with a handgun. The other was wearing light clothing with a light-colored mask and armed with something similar to pepper spray.

Police say the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information should contact the Madison Police Department.

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