Suspect in Islamic Center of Lawrence burglary was arrested with nearly $1,200 cash, affidavit alleges

photo by: Contributed Photos

At left are two images of a suspect in the Aug. 13, 2019 burglary of the Islamic Center of Lawrence. At right are the Douglas County Jail booking photos of Amadou O. Bah.

Members of the Islamic Center of Lawrence had just visited in droves to celebrate Eid al-Adha the weekend prior to a burglary on Aug. 13, according to court documents.

So a leader of the center told police he thought that between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of cash donations had likely been stolen. The suspect had reportedly taken two whole lockboxes and removed the padlock from a third to steal the cash inside.

Lawrence police had struggled to identify the suspect pictured in surveillance footage from the center, so they released images to the media on Aug. 20 in hopes that the public could help.

Overland Park police identified the man as Amadou Oury Bah, 32, when he was arrested on suspicion of an unrelated incident in Johnson County on Aug. 25. There’s no way to know how much cash disappeared from the time of the burglary until Bah’s arrest, but he reportedly had nearly $1,200 cash at the time of his arrest.

The Journal-World requested and recently received the police affidavit supporting Bah’s arrest. Allegations in an affidavit have not been proved in court, and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.

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According to the affidavit:

Surveillance footage reportedly shows Bah, wearing a red NBA hoodie, red hat and blue jeans, walking the exterior of the building at 1917 Naismith Drive before removing and damaging a screen to enter through a ground-level bathroom window. The center’s leader told police the facility’s janitor often left the bathroom window slightly open to air out after mopping.

In the video, Bah reportedly exits through a southern door and walks to his car in the parking lot, a red four-door vehicle. He returned with a pair of bolt cutters, which he used to remove the lockboxes, and carried two of them out, according to the affidavit.

photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo

In this Journal-World file photo from an open house event on March 17, 2019, two donation boxes with padlocks are visible on a wall inside the Islamic Center of Lawrence, 1917 Naismith Drive.

Detective Ryan Padilla, of the Lawrence Police Department, wrote in the affidavit that several leads surfaced once LPD released images to the public, but he was still unable to confirm the suspect’s identity.

Soon, Padilla received a tip from the Wichita Police Department/Sedgwick County Crime Stoppers requesting the public’s help in identifying a suspect in a burglary of the Islamic Society of Wichita. Padilla wrote that the suspects matched, but Wichita PD had no updated information to provide about the man’s identity.

Around 5:45 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, Lawrence police received word from an Overland Park Police Department sergeant. He had identified Bah as the same man from the Islamic Center burglary. Bah had been searched upon his arrest on suspicion of criminal threat, and officers found “a large amount of cash” on his person, according to the affidavit.

Officer Brad Williams of LPD went to Overland Park around 6:13 p.m. the same day, and the OPPD sergeant showed him Bah’s vehicle — a red, four-door Volkswagen Passat with temporary tags from Utah, according to the affidavit. In the back seat, Williams saw a red hoodie, “which he noted to be identical to the one Mr. Bah was wearing during the burglary”.

Williams conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle. Williams collected the hoodie and, from the vehicle’s trunk, a pair of bolt cutters, a projector in a suitcase and what appeared to be a microphone and recording equipment — items that may have been related to the Wichita burglary, according to the affidavit.

photo by: Lawrence Police Department; Crime Stoppers of Wichita/Sedgwick County

The two images at left are surveillance photos from a burglary reported Aug. 13, 2019, at the Islamic Center of Lawrence. The image at right is a surveillance photo of a suspect believed to have stolen some property from inside the Islamic Society of Wichita on Aug. 14, 2019.

An Overland Park officer then gave Williams an envelope containing $1,197 that had been seized from Bah’s person, according to the affidavit.

Padilla wrote that around 10:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26, he learned that Bah had been released from the Johnson County Jail. Padilla then submitted the affidavit to the Douglas County district attorney’s office to consider charges.

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It’s not clear exactly what happened after Bah’s release from the Johnson County Jail: Court records show a warrant for Bah’s arrest was issued just after 4 p.m. the same day, but he made it to Omaha, Neb., before law enforcement officials there picked him up around 11:46 p.m. the next day, Aug. 27.

Bah was extradited and then booked into the Douglas County Jail on Sept. 4; the following day, he appeared in Douglas County District Court and was charged with two felonies, burglary of a non-dwelling and theft, and a misdemeanor, criminal damage to property, according to an amended complaint in his case.

Johnson County District Court online records do not indicate any cases pending that involve Bah in that jurisdiction.

Bah wrote in a financial affidavit in his case file that he has one 2-year-old dependent. He provided an address in Phoenix, Ariz.

Bah’s next court appearance is a plea hearing scheduled for Oct. 16. His appointed attorney, Julia Butler, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment for this article.

As of Thursday afternoon, Bah remained in custody at the Douglas County Jail. His bond is set at $15,000 cash or surety.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact public safety reporter Mackenzie Clark:

Related coverage

Sept. 5, 2019: Man charged in connection with burglary of Islamic Center of Lawrence

Sept. 4, 2019: Suspect in Islamic Center of Lawrence burglary booked into Douglas County Jail

Aug. 28, 2019: Suspect in burglary at Islamic Center of Lawrence arrested again, in Omaha; faces extradition

Aug. 26, 2019: Man suspected in Islamic Center of Lawrence burglary arrested in Overland Park

Aug. 21, 2019: Suspect in Islamic Center of Lawrence burglary might be tied to similar Wichita crime

Aug. 20, 2019: Burglary reported at Islamic Center of Lawrence; police seek help identifying suspect


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