Friday, April 6, 2012

Freaky (Factual) Tale Friday: The Wrath of Killdozer

(photo @ realfoodfreaks)


Grand Lake, Colorado

In 1992, Colorado resident Marvin Heemeyer was living out a pleasant and successful life as a business man and civic activist. He had leased his 4 car muffler repair shops in Boulder, Colorado to other operators and opened Mountain View Muffler in Granby, approximately 16 miles from where he lived.

In 1994, Heemeyer became actively involved in the fight to bring legalized gambling to Grand Lake. The first publicly noticeable signs of this man being neurologically unhinged was revealed when he almost physically assaulted a reporter for the Grand Lake newspaper (which was editorially against legalized gambling).

He also got involved in a zoning dispute with the town over two acres of land that he had purchased for $42,000. He had agreed to sell the land for $250,000 to the Docheff family, who planned to turn it into a concrete batch plant.  Heemeyer later changed his mind (after the deal had already been completed) and raised the price to $375,000. He then decided to renege on the deal even further by raising the price to almost $1 million dollars.


        Name the price it will take for you to walk out of here thinking I am a insolent jerk.


Then in 2000, the Docheff family decided that dealing with the local city government would be much less of a headache than dealing with Heemeyer. They petitioned the city to rezone a piece of land adjacent to Heemeyer's property so that they could construct the concrete plant there.

Despite Heemeyer's claim that the plant would block access and visibility to his muffler shop, the Docheff family won the rezoning decision in 2001 and built the plant.

While Heeymeyer was far from being the only resident or business owner opposed to a concrete plant being put where in that location, other residents came to accept and even embrace their new business partner. Heemeyer, on the other hand, continued to fight the decision with a lawsuit that was quickly dismissed. To make matters worse, he was also later cited and fined by the city for having "junk cars" on his property and not being hooked up to the sewer line.

As Heeymeyer's business began to fail, he leased it to a trash company and sold the property all together a few months later. The new owner's gave Heemeyer six months to vacate the premises, which was more than enough time for a revenge/ultimate weapon building montage to take place.


Kind of like this scene from Dawn of the Dead, but without any friends.


Heemeyer was still the proud of owner of a 61.5 ton Komatsu D355A bulldozer. Inside a storage area on his soon to be relinquished property, he began making major modifications to the vehicle. These included reinforced steel plating around the cabin, cameras on the exterior of the vehicle that were covered by shatter resistant plastic, and three gun ports which were most likely not intended to simply fire warning shots.

                                                          marvinheemeyer.narod.ru
The completed modified bulldozer


                                                  bukisa.com
One of the modified bulldozer's gun ports

After months of building, Heemeyer had constructed a machine that would later become known as "Killdozer." According to the many notes and tapes Heemeyer left, he believed that he had no choice but to build this machine to exact revenge on those that had wronged him, even stating that he believed God had "built him for this job."

June 4, 2004

At approximately 2:00 PM, Marvin Heyemeyer bolted himself into the "Killdozer", cranked the engine, and smashed through the wall of the garage he had been working out of for the last few months.

His first target was right next door:  Docheff's concrete plant.  Heemeyer easily plowed through his nemesis' business and fired one of his semi automatic rifles at a fleeing Cody Docheff (who was able to escape).

Heemeyer then set his sights on the rest of the town. After completely crushing police officer's Ford Expedition, he attacked and destroyed buildings that housed a local electric company and construction office. These businesses were apparently connected to people that had opposed Heemeyer during his zoning dispute.

Heemeyer next turned Killdozer's wrath onto Granby's town hall building. By this point the authorities had swarmed to the area, but there seemed to be nothing they could do. Despite Granby police firing over 200 rounds of ammunition and setting off 3 explosive devices, they were unable to penetrate the cabin.

Heemeyer demolished town hall and a bank where a former town board member worked. He then rumbled over to the office and printing plant of Ski-High news, a local paper that had editorially opposed his rezoning efforts, and smashed the building repeatedly until it collapsed.

Heemeyer then ratcheted up the revenge craziness a few more notches by demolishing the former (and deceased) mayor's home and attempting to fire his .50-caliber rifle at the Independent Gas Company's massive storage of propane tanks. Fortunately for the town and anyone within a half mile radius, Heemeyer was unable to aim properly and decided to abandon his quest at creating his own mushroom cloud.

By this point, news helicopters had finally arrived (we were still a few years short of everyone walking around with a cell phone camera) and were able to shoot footage of Killdozer's last stand at Gambles Hardware.




As you can see from the footage, Killdozer's radiator finally gave out, spewing gas and fluids into the air. Coupled with the bulldozer falling into Gamble Hardware's small basement, Heemeyer was stuck and surrounded by police and S.W.A.T. A few minutes later, one of the S.W.A.T team members heard a single gunshot from inside the cabin, which ended up being the sound of Heemeyer taking his own life.

It is incredibly fortunate for police that Killdozer was stopped due to engine failure, since none of their efforts to stop the rampage were working at all. Town undersheriff Glenn Trainer had even tried to jump on top of the machine (and ending up riding on top of it for a bit) while looking for a way to get inside the cabin, but to no avail.


Hopefully he was wearing a cowboy hat while attempting that


While many people consider Heemeyer as some sort of anti-government hero, it's worth noting that even though no one was injured or killed during his rampage, it came very close to being a massacre. Many of the buildings he attacked were occupied moments before Killdozer arrived, including the town library (adjacent to the town hall), which was hosting a children's event.

Also consider that if Heemeyer had gotten off a clean shot at the propane tanks, there's no telling how many would have perished that day.

I'll leave you with the video below. If you can stand some of the very odd music selections (and the uploader's obvious love for Heemeyer), there is even more footage of Killdozer's rampage to be seen and audio files of Heemeyer's chilling last words before he began his quest for destructive revenge.

After $7 million dollars worth of property damage, I'd say that this lunatic definitely got what he wanted.





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