Another Blackrabbit66 Classic:
Marvin John Heemeyer (October 28, 1951 – June 4, 2004) was a welder and an automobile muffler repair shop owner. Outraged over the outcome of a zoning dispute, he armored a Komatsu D355A bulldozer with layers of steel and concrete and used it on June 4, 2004, to
demolish the town hall, a former judge's home, and other buildings in Granby, Colorado. The rampage ended when the bulldozer's engine gave out due to a radiator malfunction. Heemeyer killed himself with a handgun.
Heemeyer had been feuding with Granby officials, particularly over fines for violating city ordinances and a zoning dispute regarding a concrete factory constructed opposite to his muffler shop that he believed had caused his business to fail.
Heemeyer lived in Grand Lake, Colorado, about 16 miles (26 km) away from Granby.
According to a neighbor, Heemeyer moved to town over 10 years prior to the incident.
Heemeyer's friends stated that he had no relatives in the Granby-Grand Lake area.
John Bauldree, a friend of Heemeyer, said that Heemeyer was an
enjoyable person. Ken Heemeyer said his brother "would bend over
backwards for anyone". While many people described Heemeyer as a likable
person, others told a different story. Christie Baker said that
Heemeyer threatened her husband after he refused to pay for a faulty
muffler repair. Baker said her husband later paid Heemeyer $124 via an intermediary.
In 1992, Heemeyer bought 2 acres (8,100 m2) of land from the Resolution Trust Corporation,
the federal agency organized to handle the assets of failed savings and
loan institutions. He bought the land for $42,000 to build a muffler
shop and subsequently agreed to sell the land to a concrete company
owned by the Docheff family to build a concrete batch plant. The agreed
price was $250,000 but according to Susan Docheff, Heemeyer changed his
mind and increased the price to $375,000 and later demanded a deal worth
approximately $1 million. This negotiation happened well before the
rezoning proposal was heard by the town council.
In 2001, the zoning commission and the town's trustees approved the
construction of a cement manufacturing plant. Heemeyer appealed the
decisions unsuccessfully. For many years, Heemeyer had used the adjacent
property as a way to get to his muffler shop. The plan for the cement
plant blocked that access. In addition to the frustration engendered by
this dispute over access, Heemeyer was fined $2,500 by the Granby
government for various violations, including "junk cars on the property
and not being hooked up to the sewer line". Heemeyer sought to cross 8
feet (2.4 m) of the concrete plant's property to hook up with the sewer
As a last measure, Heemeyer petitioned the city with his neighbors
and friends, but to no avail. He could not function without the sewer
line and the cooperation of the town.
Heemeyer leased his business to a trash company and sold the property several months prior to the rampage.
Heemeyer had bought a bulldozer two years before the incident with
the intention of using it to build an alternative route to his muffler
shop, but city officials rejected his request to build the road.
Notes found by investigators after the rampage indicate that the
primary motivation for Heemeyer's bulldozer rampage was his fight to
stop a concrete plant from being built near his shop. The notes
indicated Heemeyer held grudges over the zoning approval. "I was always
willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable", Heemeyer
wrote. "Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things."
Heemeyer took about a year and a half to prepare for his rampage. In
notes found by investigators after the incident, Heemeyer wrote: "It's
interesting how I never got caught. This was a part-time project over a
1½ year time period." Heemeyer was surprised that several men who had
visited the shed late the previous year did not discover the modified
bulldozer, "especially with the 2,000 lb. lift fully exposed". "Somehow
their vision was clouded", he wrote.
The machine used in the incident was a Komatsu D355A bulldozer fitted with makeshift armor plating covering the cabin, engine and parts of the tracks. In places, the vehicle's armor was over one foot thick, consisting of concrete sandwiched between sheets of steel to make ad-hoc composite armor. This made the machine impervious to small arms fire and resistant to explosives; three external explosions and over 200 rounds of firearm ammunition fired at the bulldozer had no effect on it. National Guard units were placed on standby orders by Governor Bill Owens for possible anti-armor support.
For visibility, the bulldozer was fitted with several video cameras linked to two monitors mounted on the vehicle's dashboard. The cameras were protected on the outside by 3-inch shields of bullet-resistant plastic. Onboard fans and an air conditioner were used to keep Heemeyer cool
while driving and compressed air nozzles were fitted to blow dust away
from the video cameras. Food, water and life support were present in the almost airtight cabin. Heemeyer had no intention of leaving the cabin once he entered; the hatch was permanently sealed. Authorities speculated Heemeyer may have used a homemade crane found in
his garage to lower the armor hull over the dozer and himself. "Once he tipped that lid shut, he knew he wasn't getting out", Daly said. Investigators searched the garage where they believe Heemeyer built the vehicle and found cement, armor and steel.
Afterwards, the modified bulldozer came to be known as "Killdozer", although only Heemeyer was killed in the incident.
Heemeyer used an armor-plated Komatsu D355A bulldozer to destroy 13 buildings in Granby, Colorado.
On June 4, 2004, Heemeyer drove his armored bulldozer through the
wall of his former business, the concrete plant, the Town Hall, the
office of the local newspaper that editorialized against him, the home
of a former judge's widow, and a hardware store owned by another man
Heemeyer named in a lawsuit, as well as others. Owners of all the
buildings that were damaged had some connection to Heemeyer's disputes.
Heemeyer's rampage resulted in 13 buildings destroyed, resulting in total damages estimated at more than $7 million. The bulldozer also knocked out natural gas service to City Hall and the
cement plant, and damaged a truck and part of a utility service center. Despite the great damage to property, no one besides Heemeyer was killed.
According to Grand County commissioner James Newberry, Grand County emergency dispatchers used the reverse 911 emergency system to notify many residents and property owners of the rampage going on in the town. Thus, many people were warned and were able to get out of harm's way.
Defenders of Heemeyer contended that he made a point of not hurting anybody during his bulldozer rampage; Ian Daugherty, a bakery owner, said Heemeyer "went out of his way" not
to harm anyone. Others offered different views. The sheriff's department
argues that the fact that no one was injured was due more to luck than
intent. Heemeyer had installed two rifles in firing ports on the inside
of the bulldozer, and fired 15 bullets from his rifle at power transformers and propane
tanks. "Had these tanks ruptured and exploded, anyone within one-half
mile of the explosion could have been endangered", the sheriff's
department said; within this range were 12 police officers and residents
of a senior citizens complex. The sheriff's department also asserted Heemeyer fired many bullets from his semi-automatic rifle at Cody Docheff when Docheff tried to stop the
assault on his concrete batch plant by using a front-end loader. Later,
Heemeyer fired on two state troopers before they had fired at him.
The sheriff's department also notes that 11 of the 13 buildings
Heemeyer bulldozed were occupied until moments before their destruction.
At the town library, for example, a children's program was in progress
when the incident began. There might have been casualties if local emergency response hadn't worked so effectively.
One officer dropped a flash-bang grenade down the bulldozer's exhaust pipe, with no immediate apparent effect. Local and state police, including a SWAT team, walked behind and
beside the bulldozer occasionally firing, but the armored bulldozer was
impervious to their shots. Attempts to disable the bulldozer's cameras
with gunfire failed as the bullets were unable to penetrate the thick
3-inch bullet-resistant plastic. At one point during the rampage, Undersheriff
Glenn Trainor managed to climb atop the bulldozer and rode the
bulldozer "like a bronc-buster, trying to figure out a way to get a
bullet inside the dragon". However, he was eventually forced to jump off to avoid being hit with debris. Further attempts to mount the bulldozer were hampered due to oil that
Heemeyer had spread on the vehicle to hinder such attempts.
Two problems arose as Heemeyer destroyed the Gambles hardware store.
The radiator of the dozer had been damaged and the engine was leaking
various fluids, and Gambles had a small basement. The bulldozer's engine
failed and Heemeyer dropped one tread into the basement and couldn't
get out. The bulldozer became stuck. About a minute later, one of the
SWAT team members who had swarmed around the machine reported hearing a
single gunshot from inside the sealed cab. Heemeyer had shot himself. The coroner stated that Heemeyer used his .357-caliber handgun in the suicide.
Heemeyer's body was subsequently removed by police with a crane,
though it took twelve hours for them to cut through the hatch with an
oxyacetylene cutting torch.
Fate of the bulldozer
On April 19, 2005, it was announced that Heemeyer's bulldozer was being taken apart for scrap metal. It was planned that individual pieces would be dispersed to many
separate scrap yards to prevent admirers of Heemeyer from taking souvenirs.
Motivation In addition to writings that he left on the wall of his shed,
Heemeyer recorded a number of audio tapes explaining his motivation for
the attack. He mailed these to his brother in South Dakota shortly
before stepping into his bulldozer. Heemeyer's brother turned the tapes
over to the FBI, who in turn sent them to the Grand County Sheriff's
Department. The tapes were released by the Grand County Sheriff's Office
on August 31, 2004. The tapes are about two and a half hours in length.
The first recording was made on April 13, 2004. The last recording was made 13 days before the rampage.
"God built me for this job", Heemeyer said in the first recording. He
also said it was God's plan that he not be married or have a family so
that he could be in a position to carry out such an attack. "I think God
will bless me to get the machine done, to drive it, to do the stuff
that I have to do", he said. "God blessed me in advance for the task
that I am about to undertake. It is my duty. God has asked me to do
this. It's a cross that I am going to carry and I'm carrying it in God's
Heemeyer's actions were apparently a political statement. In the
audio tapes, he states: "Because of your anger, because of your malice,
because of your hate, you would not work with me. I am going to
sacrifice my life, my miserable future that you gave me, to show you
that what you did is wrong."
Investigators later found Heemeyer's handwritten list of targets.
According to the police, it included the buildings he destroyed, the
local Catholic Church (which he didn't damage), and the names of various
people who had sided against him in past disputes.
Tags: killdozer, dozer, detruction, rampage, zoning, disoute, angry, usa
Location: United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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