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Ordeal taxing for Cape City Council member

By Staff | Feb 22, 2010

Cape Coral City Council-member Eric Grill said the emotional toll of his role in the capture of Dustin Russell Lofty has been great, causing him multiple breakdowns in the days following the man’s arrest on charges of solicitation to commit capital murder.
Grill said Monday prior to City Council’s workshop that he didn’t know why, or how, Lofty thought he was capable of being party to cold-blooded murder.
“I can’t begin to imagine what he was thinking,” Grill said. “But I definitely didn’t like that someone thought I was capable of doing that.”
Grill said he had to be cautious with details of the investigation that led to Lofty’s capture, careful not to impede any further pieces of the investigation or the pending trial.
The arrest narrative released Monday by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office describes an investigation that took place over the course of several weeks, one in which Grill was instrumental in drawing Lofty into the hands of law enforcement.
According to the narrative, Grill met with Lofty in person several times to discuss the terms of the alleged would-be assassin’s proposition, during which they were under surveillance by law enforcement at least once.
Lofty’s proposal included at least “four zeroes” for his services, according to the narrative, and $500 up front to obtain the necessary tools to commit murder.
Grill did say his decision to reach out to the LCSO was nearly immediate following e-mails received from Lofty offering his services.
“I did this because it was the right thing to do, that was the only reason,” he said. “It was just wrong, it’s not something you play with.”
The embattled councilman said he’s not worried the incident will be a distraction to council, who is facing, among other things, trying to lower water rates, reducing the debt on the North RO Water Plant, when and how to restart the utilities expansion project and trying to foster some commercial growth in a city almost entirely reliant on a property tax base.
As Grill prepares to face his own legal issues — charges of grand theft and fraud, for which he is to be arraigned on March 1 — he said he realizes that public perception of him is low, and that most will never be happy with his job as a City Council member.
City business aside, he said he’s trying to move past the stress of the investigation.
“It’s trying,” he said of his role. “When you’re holding something like that inside … it’s going to weigh heavily on you.”