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DAYTON, Ohio – If not for the Bible, the bullets would have gone right through his heart.
A public transit bus driver in Dayton, Ohio, was attacked by three teenagers early Monday morning after his bus broke down on the side of the road, police told CNN affiliate WHIO.
Rickey Wagoner, 49, was shot three times at point-blank range and stabbed in the arm, but survived because both bullets aimed at his chest were stopped by a New Testament devotional bible in his front pocket, according to WHIO. The third bullet struck him in the leg.
“There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in this incident, because he probably should not be here,” Dayton Police Sgt. Michael Pauley told WHIO.
Wagoner told police he believes the assault was part of a gang initiation. Wagoner said he heard one suspect tell another that he needed to “kill the polar bear” in order to be “all the way in the club,” according to WHIO.
Dayton police, however, said it was too early in the investigation to draw any conclusions about the motive.
During the attack, Wagoner told police, he used an aluminum pen from his pocket to stab one of the teenage boys in the leg, according to WHIO. The suspects dropped the gun and fled as Wagoner picked up the weapon and opened fire.
Wagoner was transported to a hospital and was being treated for a bullet wound to the leg, among other injuries, according to WHIO. His injuries are not life threatening, police said.
Police were searching for the three male suspects.
The condition of the book, which police described as a religious devotional entitled “The Message,” was unknown. “The Message” is a translation of the Bible into contemporary language by Eugene Peterson.