Michigan restaurant owner says he used Facebook to identify suspects involved in property destruction

Jeff Lobdell, a restaurant owner from Grand Rapids, Mich., posted surveillance video footage to Facebook on Sunday of rioters who damaged his property and was later successful in tracking them down, with some help from the public.

Protests stemming from the recent death of George Floyd provided cover for looting. Lobdell, who owns properties across the state, said his Sundance Grill & Bar restaurant was badly damaged and had broken windows, according to a Wednesday interview he did with "Michigan’s Best" podcast.

Lobdell said the video, which his marketing manager also posted to social media, shows 10 to 12 people inside the establishment doing physical damage. It had just opened for takeout last week. After the Facebook post, tips came pouring in.

One tip was from a probation officer who contacted the authorities, after identifying one of the people from the footage as someone who reported to him. Arrests were made on Wednesday, according to MLive.


“There was some joy in everybody working and seeing each other -- and then we were victims of some horrible vandalism," Lobdell explained. "And it wasn’t just the Sundance Grill downtown. It was hundreds of other businesses that were really ransacked, windows shattered. It was not a good thing, but there were some good things that happened Sunday morning.”

Lobdell was referring to the hundreds of volunteers who came out to help clean up the community and assist struggling businesses, as they pick up the pieces of the economic and physical devastation caused by COVID-19 and the recent property destruction, respectively.

“[We] did see the good in people," he said.

Speaking about the looters, Lobdell added, "I can’t see a lot of the true Grand Rapidians that love their city, love their businesses, love their fellow community members -- thinking this is a good thing to do to each other in all of this. We're all hurt by what happened in Minnesota. It's disgusting... and we've supported the demonstrators that -- this can't happen ... but it doesn't make it right to destroy people's livelihood. People that are just trying to rebound from coronavirus."

Sundance Grill still hopes to open on Monday, which is the same day Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order against restaurants will be lifted, allowing them to serve at 50 percent capacity, according to MLive.