An Ohio man walked into the back door of a Bob Evans restaurant the morning of April 16, 2021 and chased his ex-girlfriend down. He then shot her multiple times in broad daylight. There were 12 customers eating in the restaurant at the time of the murder. The bystanders ducked under the tables when the man started shooting and called 911.
One customer who called 911 from underneath their booth said they heard “four or five shots”.
When police got there, the shooter was already gone. They found 38-year-old waitress Rebecca Jean Rogers bleeding out. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. The victim was a single mother of four. A Go Fund Me has been set up to raise money for her children.
A 54-year-old Canton, Ohio resident named Richard James Nelson was identified as the shooter and arrested 12 hours later after a foot chase.
In 2017, Rebecca Rogers filed a police report saying Richard Nelson invaded her home. He was charged with stalking by menacing and burglary but the case was dismissed, though the reason why is unclear. Prior to the shooting, Nelson also had “several” other assault and domestic violence charges that never moved forward and he was released each time.
Most news outlets along with local police chief Jack Angelo are bizarrely chalking this up to “on again off again” domestic violence between the couple. It’s important to know that this “both sides” argument is often repeated, but rarely factual. It’s a myth that abusers started and since abusers are great at seeming like normal people to everyone except their romantic partner, it has now become part of mainstream “common knowledge” despite not being based in reality at all.
It’s simply not a “both sides” relationship when one person shoots an unarmed person with a gun at their place of employment.
What’s much more likely, according to people who study abusive relationships and partner violence, is that Richard Nelson was the abuser and claimed his girlfriend abused him too, because that’s how abusers think. They don’t view their violent actions as abuse because they feel their partner deserves it or “asked” for it. When pressed, they will describe the exact actions their partner took that justifies beating them or abusing them verbally or financially. This doesn’t mean men aren’t victims of domestic violence or that women aren’t sometimes perpetrators of violence. It’s just that this specific “both sides” argument is an urban legend. There aren’t typically two abusers in a relationship with each other. When one person goes to another person’s place of employment to shoot them with a gun, that’s a good indicator of who the abuser is in that relationship.
Richard James Nelson has been charged with aggravated murder, Ohio’s version of premeditated murder which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.