An RTA bus driver in Dayton, Ohio, had a miraculous escape from death Monday morning when he was shot twice in the chest in an apparent gang initiation. The bullets were stopped by the driver’s copy of a religious devotional titled “The Message,” a modern translation of the Bible.
Rickey Wagoner, 49, of Trotwood was assaulted by three men as he stood outside his bus. Sgt. Michael Pauley of the Dayton Police Department said, “His bus had stopped running and he got out to see what the problem was,” Wagoner, who was shot in the chest twice and the leg once, described his assailants as late-teen black males, possibly acting in a gang initiation; he told police that he heard one of the suspects tell another to kill him “if you want to be all the way in the club.”
Wagoner said one of the suspects fired at his chest twice, then lost the gun to Wagoner as they wrestled, prompting another suspect to shoot him in the leg. Wagoner said he pulled out an aluminum pen and added, “I stabbed one in the leg with my pen. He hollered and that’s when they all ran.”
Wagoner called 911, and told the dispatcher, “I’ve been hit in the leg. My chest feels like I’ve been hit with a sledgehammer.”
Pauley marveled at the story, saying: “The two bullets were stopped by the New Testament book in his (shirt) pocket. There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in this incident, because he probably should not be here.”
Wagoner’s friend of 20 years, Lillie Brown, commented, “God’s on Rick’s side. Rick is a great guy, you couldn’t ask for anybody better than Rick. He’s a great friend and terrific dad.”
Wagoner’s son Rickey Wagoner, Jr. wrote on Facebook, “Dad is doing good now and my family and I are just lucky he is still alive.”
Sgt. Richard Blommel said Monday, “It’s way too early in the investigation” to assert the incident was gang-related, but it doesn’t appear to have been a robbery. The attack remains under investigation.