It was called “The Killdozer” and for one terrifying afternoon in June 2004 in Granby, Colorado, it reeked complete havoc on the town. In total damaged or destroyed 13 buildings including a bank, the town hall and a hardware store. The driver of the modified bulldozer was named Marvin Heemeyer and he was one very upset taxpayer.
His story starts way back in 1992.
Marvin Heemeyer was a welder by trade. Since 1992, he had owned a muffler shop in Granby where he sold and repaired mufflers. Around the same time, he entered into negotiations with a company that was planning on building a concrete plant on the same site as his shop. After the negotiations broke down after years of going back and forth – Heemeyer kept increasing his asking price – the town went ahead and re-zoned the adjacent property for the concrete plant. Doing this cut off the route that Heemeyer used to get from his house to the muffler shop and Heemeyer got angry.
Rubbing salt into his wound, the city levied $2500 worth of fines on Heemeyer’s property for a number of code violations. By the time the land was re-zone in 2002, Heemeyer was on his last nerve. And then he snapped.
Heemeyer started planning his revenge on the town and the people he believed had wronged him so grievously. It started with a bulldozer he had purchased a few years earlier and using his master welding skills, he transformed the thing like a tank. He plated it with steel plates and concrete. He fixed two large machine guns to the sides. He outfitted a camera system so he could steer with the use of monitors inside the completely sealed cockpit. It took him a year and a half to complete the destruction machine. Once he was sealed in, no one else would be getting in and he knew he would not be getting out.
On the morning of June 4, 2004, Marvin Heemeyer sealed himself into his makeshift tank and took off, prepared to bring destruction to anyone he thought had wronged him over the last 10 years in Granby. Among notes found at his house after the siege was over, police found one that read “I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things.”
His first unreasonable thing, after driving through the wall of his own garage like the Kool-Aid man, was attacking the concrete plant that was the source of so much stress in his life. Then he took out the town hall, where the government had ruled against him over and over, the house of the former mayor, the town newspaper’s office, who often took sides against him and finally a hardware store that was owned by a man he’d had another legal dispute with.
After two long, harrowing hours, the Killdozer got stuck when it drove over the basement of the hardware store and the floor collapsed. A trapped Heemeyer ended the siege by committing suicide in the cockpit of the dozer.
In the end, the damage inflicted by Heemeyer exceed $7 million, 13 buildings and numerous police and civilian vehicles. Unbelievable and thankfully, no one was killed.
Heemeyer himself has become a bit of a folk-hero among many anti-government types, though he has been branded as a domestic terrorist by others.
As for the Killdozer itself, well, it was destroyed and sold off for scrap to keep any Heemeyer supporters from using it in any way.