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RTA driver shooting investigation to take weeks, police chief says

Police are testing the weapons and evidenct, but have no suspects.

The investigation into the shooting of a Regional Transit Authority trolley bus driver has yielded some results on the laboratory side, but police don’t have any suspects, Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said Thursday.

Biehl said the investigation is still at least weeks away from finishing up.

In the Feb. 24 incident, Dayton bus driver Rickey Wagoner, 49, described a violent struggle with three teenage youths wearing bandannas over their faces after he left his bus to check on why it lost power. He said he fought the youths off, but the struggle left him bleeding from a gunshot wound. Two bullets fired at him lodged in a religious book he carried, Wagoner told police. He said the fight was in the 1900 block of Lakeview Avenue.

Police are testing the weapons in the case, which include a knife and a handgun, for DNA evidence. They’re also performing ballistics testing on the firearm. Audio and video recorded on the bus is being enhanced and analyzed.

Until all the evidence is in, Biehl said it would be premature to reach any conclusions.

“We are not going to release lab results piecemeal,” he said. “It won’t be helpful. People will form an opinion based on one piece of evidence. I’ve continued to caution everyone to not formulate any opinions until all the evidence is obtained.”

Wagoner has declined requests for an interview from local media outlets.

The investigation is also being assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is examining whether the incident is a hate crime. Wagoner, who is white, said one of the youths said, “If you want to be all in the club, you have to kill the polar bear,” an apparent street slang reference to a white person.

Police have offered no detailed descriptions of the attackers, although Wagoner said they wore jeans and hooded sweatshirts. The descriptions of the assailants are too general to offer much assistance in a search for suspects, Biehl said.

But police are asking the public to telephone any tips they might have to (937) 222-7867.

Wagoner told police that after he got the gun away from the attackers, they began to run away. Fearing they would return with more weapons, Wagoner said he fired bullets from their gun at them. They then jumped into a 1990s model dark-colored Ford and drove away, he said.

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