Early Monday morning, an Ohio bus driver shot three times said he was saved by the Bible in his front shirt pocket. Rickey Wagner had pulled his empty bus onto a curb for maintenance when the attack began.
The 49-year-old driver for the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority was perused by three young men, who he said appeared to be in their late teens. One of the attackers began shooting a gun, aiming near Wagner’s chest twice. Luckily, The Message, a modern-day translation of the Bible, blocked the bullets from his chest.
“There was obviously some kind of intervention involved…because (Waggoner) should probably not be [alive],” said Michael Pauley, Dayton Police Sgt. “Amazingly, [the] injuries are not life-threatening,” he added.
After being shot near his chest pocket, Wagner caught the arm of the shooter trying to grab hold of the gun. The shooter fell to the ground, firing once more and hit Wagner in the leg, near his hip. Meanwhile, another man stabbed Wagner in the arm. Trying to gain control of the gun, Wagner also managed to stab one of his attackers with a pen. The pen was described as longer and thicker than a writing tool, a “self-defense” item the bus driver always has on hand.
“I stabbed one in the leg…with my pen,” he said during the 911 call to police. Once Wagner had dominating control of the gun, the three attackers fled the scene. The police report said he may have shot one of the men while they fled the scene, but this is still uncertain. Wagner drove the bus to a safe location before dialing 911 for help.
“It…feels like I’ve been hit with a sledgehammer,” said Wagner about the feeling in his chest, when he phoned police. He told the operator he was unsure if he was shot or the book had caught the bullets, a detail later confirmed by the investigation.
Wagner appears to have been the victim of a gang crime. He told police he overheard one man saying, “If you want to be…in the club, you have to kill [him],” as the three approached. These claims have not yet be solidified, but police are looking for three suspects between the ages of 15 and 18.
Miami Valley, a hospital in Dayton, Ohio, confirmed Wagner was in their care on Feb. 25, but gave little additional information. Wagner is expected to make a full recovery from his bullet wounds and other injuries caused by the altercation.
The author of The Message, Eugene H. Paterson, was excited by the news that his book, that Wagner had started carrying a week earlier, had saved his life in this Ohio shooting. That’s wonderful,” said Peterson, who is 81. “I’ve heard [similar] stories about [this] during the second World War. I’m glad to be in [that] club.”
Whether it was divine intervention or plain good luck, Ohio shooting victim Rickey Wagner can thank the bible in his pocket for saving his life from two bullets.
By Erin P. Friar