DAYTON, Ohio — Authorities say a Bible may have saved the life of an Ohio bus driver Monday morning.
A New Testament Bible was in the front pocket of Regional Transit Authority bus driver Rickey Waggoner's shirt when he took two bullets to the chest during an early-morning shooting.
The bullets struck the Bible and did not penetrate his body, authorities told WHIO-TV.
Waggoner spent Monday night at Miami Valley Hospital, recovering from a gunshot to his leg and stab wounds to his left arm. Three shots were fired, police said, and the Bible blocked two of them.
"I had a book in my pocket," Waggoner said in the 911 call. "At first I thought it went through. It just feels like I've been hit with a sledgehammer in the chest. And I've been cut on the arm."
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Officers at the scene called the life-saving event an “intervention.”
"There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in this incident because (Waggoner) should probably not be here," Dayton Police Sgt. Michael Pauley said.
According to WHIO, Waggoner, 49, parked his bus on Lakeview Avenue in Dayton after it stopped running. While outside of the bus assessing the problem, Waggoner was approached by three teens who said they had to "shoot a polar bear," police said. The teens also mentioned "getting into the club."
Waggoner fought for his life, wrestling a gun and knife away from the teens, who then ran away.
"They started to run. I shot at them with their gun. I got their gun and knife in the bus with me," he said in the 911 call.
Waggoner told the 911 operator that he stabbed one of his attackers with his pen, but that he was unsure if any of the shots he fired hit them.
Police said the three suspects are about 15 to 18 years old.
Paramedics rushed Waggoner to Miami Valley after the incident. Officials said he was shaken up but is now in good condition.
According to a police report, Waggoner told officers he brought his copy of the Bible about a week ago.
Police said they'd investigate Waggoner's attack as a possible gang initiation, WCPO reporter Amy Wadas learned Monday evening.
According to Dr. Art Jipson, criminal justice Professor at the University of Dayton, the term "polar Bear" is often used by gangs. He said "polar Bear" refers to a white individual, and "black bear" refers to a black individual.
"Club is in essence a reference for a gang," Jipson said. "To say it's time to get into a club means this is my entrance fee, this is how I get in. This is how I prove myself."