TOWNSHIP, Ohio – A man who walked into a Bob Evans restaurant and shot dead a waitress on Friday was captured after a day of manhunts that included U.S. Marshals, the State Highway Patrol’s Ohio and local law enforcement.
Richard J. Nelson, 54, of Canton, is accused of entering the business at 9:30 a.m., walking behind a counter and opening fire, shooting waitress Rebecca Jean Rogers, 38 years, several times in a back hallway. Authorities say it was a country-related shootout.
The gunman fled the scene after the shooting and was at large for hours before being arrested.
About half a dozen customers and six to eight employees were inside the restaurant when the shooting took place.
Police were called to a report of several shots fired with several victims, Police Chief Jack Angelo said at the scene.
“As tragic as it may be, it could have been a lot worse,” he said. Only the waitress was shot.
Angelo said the officers arrived just before the SWAT team, which was conducting a nearby training exercise, and cleared the building.
Rogers, who recently lived in Massillon, was taken to the Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital where she later died from her injuries.
A Bob Evans employee who dialed 911 during the shooting can be heard telling people to “get off, tell them to get off”.
When the dispatcher asks if anyone has been shot, she says she doesn’t know. She and the others are hiding under the tables.
“We cannot go out. We are afraid.”
On another 911 call, a customer said she had just heard four or five gunshots. “We all ran out. There were older people there and my husband just made sure they got out.”
Angelo said Nelson went out with Rogers but they broke up.
Rogers had filed a police report against Nelson in March 2017 after entering her home. Nelson was charged with stalking and burglary and taken to Stark County Jail, court records show.
But later, Rogers was found guilty of filing a false police report in the case.