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Marvin John Heemeyer (October 28, 1951 - June 4, 2004) was an American skilled welder and owner of an automobile muffler shop. On June 4, 2004, frustrated over a failed zoning dispute, Heemeyer used a Komatsu D355A bulldozer which he had modified with armor in the forms of steel and concrete to demolish the town hall, a former mayor's home and other buildings in Granby, Colorado. The rampage ended when the bulldozer's engine overheated due to a combination of the armor's weight and insulating properties. Heemeyer killed himself with a handgun.
Heemeyer used an armor-plated Komatsu D355A bulldozer to destroy 13 buildings in Granby, Colorado
Heemeyer had been feuding with officials and individuals in Granby, particularly over fines for violating city ordinances and a zoning dispute regarding a concrete factory constructed opposite his muffler shop that destroyed his business.



Contents

Background

Heemeyer lived in Grand Lake, about 16 miles away from Granby. According to a citizen who knew him, Heemeyer moved to town about 10 years prior to the incident. Friends of Heemeyer believed that he had no immediate family in the Granby-Grand Lake area.

John Bauldree, a friend of Marvin's, said that Heemeyer was a fun-loving guy. Ken Heemeyer said his brother Marvin "would bend over backwards for anyone." While many people described Heemeyer as a likeable guy, others said he was not someone to cross. Christie Baker told the Denver Post that Heemeyer threatened her husband after he refused to pay for some muffler work.

Heemeyer bought two acres of land from the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency set up to handle the assets of failed savings and loan institutions. He bought the land for $42,000 subsequently agreeing to sell it to the Docheff family, which wanted the property for a concrete batch plant. The agreed upon price was $250,000 but according to Susan Docheff, he changed his mind and upped the price to $375,000 and at some later point demanded a deal worth approximately $1 million. This negotiation happened well before the rezoning proposal was proposed to the town council.

Dispute with the city and preparations

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 of the concrete plant's property to hook up with the sewer line.

As a last measure, Heemeyer petitioned the city with his neighbors and friends, but to no avail. He couldn't function without the sewer line and the cooperation of the town.

Soon, Heemeyer leased his business to a trash company. Heemeyer ended up selling the property several months prior to the rampage. The new owners gave Heemeyer six months to leave, and it was apparently during this time that he began modifying his bulldozer. 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. Heemeyer complained the concrete plant had left dust on, and blocked access to, his business.

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 suggested Heemeyer nursed grudges over the zoning issue. "I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable," Heemeyer scribbled. "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 1 1/2 year time period." In the notes, Heemeyer expressed surprise that three men who visited the shed last fall did not discover the bulldozer work, "especially with the 2,000 lb. lift fully exposed." "Somehow their vision was clouded," he wrote.

The rampage

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.

Grand County Commissioner Duane Daley said Heemeyer apparently used a video camera and two monitors found inside to guide the dozer. 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.

Damage limited to property damage with no injuries to humans

Despite the great damage to property (13 buildings were destroyed, most requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars to be replaced), no one besides Heemeyer was killed. Total damage was estimated at about $4 million.

Early defenders of Heemeyer contended that he made a point of not hurting anybody during his bulldozer rampage. However, the sheriff's department argues that the fact nobody got hurt was due more to luck than intent. They 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.

According to Grand County commissioner James Newberry, Grand County emergency dispatchers used the reverse 911 emergency system to notify as many residents and property owners of the rampage going on in the town. [1] Thus, many people were forewarned and were able to get out of harm's way.

Ian Daugherty, a bakery owner, said Heemeyer "went out of his way" not to harm anyone. Others claimed Heemeyer had 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.

As well, the sheriff notes that 11 of the 13 buildings Heemeyer bulldozed were occupied until moments before the destruction. At the town library, for example, a children's program was in progress when the incident began. [2] According to Allen Best, there might have been casualties if local emergency response, allied with a dose of luck, hadn't worked so effectively. Best makes special note of undersheriff, Glenn Trainer, who rode the bulldozer "like a bronc-buster, trying to figure out a way to get a bullet inside the dragon." [3]

The bulldozer also knocked out natural gas service to City Hall and the cement plant, damaging a truck and part of a utility service center. [4]

End of the rampage

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.

Two things conspired against Heemeyer as he reduced the Gambles hardware store to rubble. His machine was belching smoke and leaking various fluids, and Gambles had a small basement. Either the bulldozer's engine failed, or Heemeyer dropped one tread into the basement and couldn't get out, or both. In any event, 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. The coroner says Heemeyer used his .357-caliber handgun to kill himself.

The fate of the Killdozer

On April 19, 2005, it was announced that Killdozer was being taken apart for scrap metal. Individual pieces of Killdozer would be dispersed to many separate scrap yards to prevent admirers of Heemeyer from taking souvenirs.

Motivation for the rampage

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 it 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 made on April 13, 2004. He even said it was God's plan that he not be married or have 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 name," he said.

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. It was not just a list of buildings and businesses, police say. His list also contained the names of at least 10 individuals and a local Catholic Church.

Aftermath

Coverage of Heemeyer's rampage in the print and broadcast media was almost universally negative. However, some see him as a David and Goliath-style folk hero, and many Web sites celebrate him as an anti-government patriot.

In the aftermath, some in the media reported a few people in the county suggested turning Heemeyer's bulldozer into a tourist attraction. However, such a course of action was never seriously considered. Almost immediately following the rampage, the District Attorney's Office filed an action to have the bulldozer, and related weapons, declared public nuisances, and subject to forfeiture under Colorado law. With no opposition, the Grand County District Court approved the action, and ultimately the property was destroyed.

Although the town had mixed reactions to Heemeyer's act, his actions spurred a new feeling of closeness among the residents in Granby, who organized fundraisers to help rebuild the property he damaged.

Links:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_Heemeyer
  • http://monk.com.ua/article.php/2007010416080861
  • http://monk.com.ua/video/heemeyer/insidekilldozer.wmv 4Mb
  • http://monk.com.ua/video/heemeyer/Killdozer_Tribute.wmv 2.1Mb
  • http://monk.com.ua/video/heemeyer/svoboda.mpg 31Mb
  • http://rd2d.com/article.php/20070105013240440