An RTA bus driver who said he was shot and stabbed by three teens who he overheard describing a gang initiation was recovering at Miami Valley Hospital Monday night.
“If you want to be all the way in the club, you have to kill the polar bear,” he said he overheard one of the teens say. Polar bear is street lingo for a white person.
Rickey Wagoner, 49, of Trotwood, was assaulted by three males in the 1900 block of Lakeview Avenue while standing outside of his bus, officials said.
It’s too early in the investigation to connect the attack to gang violence, said Sgt. Richard Blommel of the Dayton Police Department. However, he said, officers don’t believe that the attack was an attempted robbery.
Wagoner called 911 at 5:20 a.m. to alert police of the shooting.
“I’ve been hit in the leg,” he told an emergency dispatcher. “My chest feels like I’ve been hit with a sledgehammer.”
Three shots were fired at Wagoner — one struck him in the right leg and two in his chest. A book in his shirt pocket prevented the bullets from entering his body, police said.
Officers later referred to the book as a religious devotional titled “The Message,” which is a modern translation of the Bible.
The attack occurred early Monday morning as Wagoner was trying to repair a malfunction on the bus, he told the 911 dispatcher. The three suspects approached him, and when he turned to face them one fired two shots at Wagoner’s chest. He then wrestled the gun away from the shooter but another round fired and struck him in the leg during the struggle.
As they fought, another suspect stabbed Wagoner in the left arm with a knife. Wagoner then pulled an aluminum pen from his pocket and stabbed one of his attackers.
“I stabbed one in the leg with my pen,” Wagoner told the dispatcher. “He hollered and that’s when they all (fled).”
As they fled toward Maclin Avenue, Wagoner picked up the gun, which one of the suspects dropped, and fired at them.
Wagoner described the suspects as three black teen males. Two are about 6 feet tall and wore dark colored hoodies. The third suspect is about 6-foot-2 and also wore a dark hoodie. All three wore dark blue bandannas on their faces.
They fled the scene in a dark-colored 1990s model Ford, Wagoner said.
“There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in this incident, because he probably should not be here,” Sgt. Michael Pauley of the Dayton Police Department said of Wagoner.
Wagoner’s friends and family agreed.
“God’s on Rick’s side,” said Dayton resident Lillie Brown, who has known Wagoner for nearly 20 years. “Rick is a great guy, you couldn’t ask for anybody better. He’s a great friend and terrific dad.”
Wagoner’s son Rickey Wagoner Jr. declined to speak to a reporter, but updated his father’s condition on his Facebook page Monday afternoon.
“Dad is doing good now and my family and I are just lucky he is still alive,” he wrote.
RTA officials described Wagoner as an exemplary worker.
“He is one of our best employees,” RTA Executive Director Mark Donaghy said during a press conference, adding that the attack on Wagoner is “an extraordinary event” for the company.
The last attack on an RTA driver this severe happened 10 years ago, he said.
“Amazingly, his injuries are not life-threatening,” Pauley said of Wagoner. “He basically said he fought for his life.”