Marvin Heemeyer was an American welder who is best known for rampaging a town with his ‘killdozer’. His killdozer was essentially a modified bulldozer that wreaked havoc in Granby, Colorado on June 4, 2004.
Let us take a look at Marvin Heemeyer’s Killdozer Rampage.
1) The Background
Heemeyer moved into Granby, Colorado in the early 1990s. Here he bought a few acres of land and started his own muffler repair shop. According to the locals, he was a jovial blue-collar worker.
2) Marvin Heemeyer negotiates with the Docheff family
In 1992, Heemeyer bought 2-acres of land from the Resolution Trust Corp for a price of $42,000. However, he subsequently agreed to sell it to the Docheff family, which wanted to build a concrete batch plant on the property. He initially agreed to a price of $250,000, but further increased it to $375,000. Ultimately at some point, he charged approximately $1 million. As the price was too steep, the Docheff family terminated the deal.
3) In 2001, the town’s zoning commission decided to authorize the construction of the concrete plant and consequently zoning the land on the edge of Heemeyer’s property for its use
A furious Heemeyer objected to the rezoning. He argued that the dust, noise and added traffic would diminish the value of his adjacent property. Additionally, he also held a grudge against the plant operator Cody Docheff. Moreover, like Heemeyer others opposed the town’s decision as well, however, according to the town manager Tom Hale, they gradually accepted the decision and moved on. But most locals agree that Heemeyer still opposed to the idea. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the town but that failed.
The town board and Heemeyer clashed again that year when Heemeyer was levied with fines totalling $2,500. The fines were levied for various offences including “junk cars on the plot and not being hooked up to the sewer line”. The latter one was apparently the last straw for Heemeyer and he could not take it anymore. He felt screwed by the town and decided to take matters into his own hands.
4) Marvin Heemeyer possessed a 61.5-ton Komatsu bulldozer. According to his family, he bought it several years ago; maybe for occasional construction purposes. This device would ultimately be his ‘revenge machine’.
5) Marvin Heemeyer begins the construction of his killdozer
Heemeyer possessed a 6,000 sq foot metal building between his muffler shop and Docheff’s now-established concrete plant. On December 2, 2003, he sold off the shop and the adjacent metal building. However, the terms of that sale included a leaseback agreement that allowed Heemeyer to use a walled-off 2,000 sq foot section of the metal building until June 1, 2004. This section ultimately became his bulldozer garage. And without telling anyone about his plans, Heemeyer deeded his house to a friend and retreated to the garage to work on customizing his revenge machine. Subsequently, his machine was popularised as the ‘killdozer’.
6) Heemeyer began his customization work, apparently at night, in a space stocked with everything from a portable cement mixer to movie DVDs. According to a Denver Post report, the movies included ‘A Man Apart’, a thriller which had an eerily fitting tag line “Nothing left to live for, everything to fight for”.
7) The killdozer’s construction is complete
The expert welder started by outfitting the bulldozer with armoured plates, which would protect the driver against explosives and small firearms. He had created the armour himself, using a conglomerate of concrete poured between sheets of steel. This subsequently created plates over a foot thick. Additionally, he set up video cameras on the exterior of the bulldozer, so that he could monitor the situation from inside. Multiple layers of shatter-resistant plastic protected these cameras. Plus, he also mounted a system that used jets of air to blow dust and debris away from the lenses.
He also installed fans and an air conditioner to keep himself cool during his rampage. Finally, he mounted three gun ports which were outfitted with a .50 calibre rifle, a .308 semi-automatic and a .22 long rifle. Their barrels pointing to the front, rear and right side respectively. According to the authorities, once he’d sealed himself in, there was no way he could get out.
8) On June 4, 2004, Marvin Heemeyer’s killdozer is complete and ready to wreak havoc
He was now ready to exact his revenge on the town that wronged him. On June 4, 2004, he put two handguns in the machine and climbed inside the cab. According to reports, before entering, he greased the surface of the armoured plates to discourage attempts to climb aboard. He then drove the machine through the side of the metal building and set out for town.
9) Marvin Heemeyer’s killdozer rampage
His first target was obviously Docheff’s Mountain Park concrete plant. He bulldozed the company’s administration building into rubble and then took down the entire rear of the nearby batch-plant building. Once he was satisfied with the damage he had caused he moved to other businesses and buildings. In the end, Heemeyer had bulldozed the Town Hall, a newspaper office, a playground, a former judge’s widow’s home, a hardware store and other buildings.
Heemeyer then finally proceeded to bulldoze the Gambles hardware store. However here he ran out of luck as the store had a small basement and his machine was leaking various fluids. Either the machine’s engine failed or Heemeyer got wedged between the basement and store and couldn’t get out, or both. But after 2 hours and 7 minutes, Heemeyer’s rampage had stopped. Subsequently, after surrounding the machine, the SWAT team heard a single gunshot.
Marvin Heemeyer had shot himself dead with his .357 calibre handgun.
10) A hero or a villain?
Folks often consider Heemeyer a hero because, despite the nearly $7 million in property damage done to the town, not a single human besides Heemeyer was killed. However, the authorities base it on mere luck. Today, he has a devout following in anti-government online communities. Some see Heemeyer as a hero who stood up against the government while many others see him as a troubled man who chose violence and destruction when life didn’t go his way.
As for the infamous killdozer, it was taken apart and sold for scrap.