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File | AP
Police tape is wrapped around a pole near the site where the bus driver claimed he was shot and stabbed. (The Daily News | Darrin Pope)

Police: Bullet-riddled Bible book did not save bus driver

DAYTON, Ohio – A white bus driver’s story that a religious book in his shirt pocket blocked bullets as he was attacked by three black men isn’t supported by evidence and testing, Dayton police said Wednesday as they closed the case, which had been investigated as a possible hate crime.

Rickey Wagoner, 49, told police he was outside his city bus Feb. 24 when men assaulted him. He said that two bullets hit the inch-thick book containing Bible verses and that one hit his leg and that he was stabbed in the arm, according to a police report. The report also said Wagoner told police he grabbed the gun and shot at the fleeing men.

Wagoner had told police that the assailants were black and that he thought the attack might have been a gang initiation.

But his account wasn’t found to be factual, Police Chief Richard Biehl said at a news conference.

“This assault, as reported, is not true, not accurate,” Biehl said. Police did not say Wagoner made up the story and didn’t explain why he would have made the report. Biehl did say it appeared Wagoner owed on back taxes.

A recording at a phone listing for Wagoner said the voice mail could not accept more messages.

No criminal charges have been filed. But the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority said Wednesday that it has charged Wagoner with violating its employee standards.

Police did extensive testing, including simulating the shots fired into the book. Biehl said it wasn’t credible to believe that bullets didn’t pass through the book into Wagoner.

Biehl also said that only Wagoner’s DNA was found at the scene and that his injuries weren’t consistent with defensive wounds.

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