A bus driver in Dayton, Ohio, survived a shooting today, thanks to a religious book in his shirt pocket that stopped two bullets, authorities said.
“This is almost unheard of for us,” Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority Executive Director Mark Donaghy said in a statement. “The last time we had a gun incident involving a bus was almost a decade ago.”
The bus driver, Rick Waggoner, 49, is recovering and is doing well, Donaghy said.
Police said Waggoner, who was shot at 5:07 a.m. today, would not have survived if the book, a devotional book titled “The Message,” wasn’t in his pocket, according to local ABC affiliate WKEF.
“I had a book in my pocket — at first I thought it had went through, but it just feels like I’ve been hit by a sledgehammer in the chest, and I’ve been cut on the arm,” Wagoner told the 911 dispatcher, WKEF reported.
Police said the victim was shot twice in the chest, once in the hip, and also stabbed in the arm.
Waggoner started his morning route along Lakeview Avenue and Lakeside Drive but then stopped at the side of the road because the bus broke down, WKEF reported.
Three male suspects, possibly juveniles, approached him, police said.
Waggoner told police that he heard a suspect say that “if you want to be all the way in the club, you have to kill the polar bear.”
Waggoner scuffled with the suspects and took the gun and knife away from them, police said. Waggoner shot at them as they fled but he wasn’t sure if he hit any of them, WKEF reported.
“We’re still trying to find out what exactly happened,” Sgt. Richard Blommel of the Dayton Police Department said. “We’re going to go back to the scene.”
Waggoner has been working at RTA for 10 years, officials said. During that time, he had a perfect attendance and no accidents, Donaghy said in a statement.
“He is one of our best people,” Donaghy said. “He runs a 90 percent on-time performance record, which is incredible. That just shows you the kind of person Rick is.”
Donaghy the RTA is working to retrieve surveillance video from the bus.