Waitress fatally shot during her shift at Bob Evans restaurant

The suspect, a former boyfriend of the victim, made his first court appearance on Tuesday. He entered a plea of not guilty.

An Ohio man made his first court appearance Tuesday after police said he shot and killed his ex-girlfriend during her Friday morning shift at a Bob Evans restaurant.

Officers responded to the Canton, Ohio, eatery within minutes of the 9:30 a.m. shooting, but James Nelson, 54, had already fled through the back exit, police said. The victim, 38-year-old Rebecca Jean Rogers, was taken to Mercy Hospital, where she died from her injuries.

Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo said that Nelson is “a former boyfriend of the victim, and there was a history of domestic violence in their past.”

“Domestic violence is a dangerous thing and you need people need to take it seriously because far too often domestic incidents lead to tragedy like this and that’s nothing that anyone wants to see,” Angelo said.

The dozen or so other people in the restaurant at the time of the shooting were not injured.

“The customers took cover under tables,” Angelo said.

Nelson was captured by police Friday evening. During Tuesday’s appearance, he entered a plea of not guilty, according to NBC affiliate WKYC. He’s being held on an aggravated murder charge in lieu of $2 million bond, Stark County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. James Stevic told NBC News. It’s unclear if Nelson has a lawyer.

His next hearing is scheduled for Thursday, according to the news station.

Bob Evans did not return to a request for comment.

WKYC reported that the restaurant will be closed until Thursday, according to a sign on the door. On Friday, Rogers’ friends and family released balloons in her memory, according to the news station.