What It’s Like When Your Town Is Attacked By A ‘Killdozer’

On June 4, 2004 one humankind in a home-built tank exploded through the wall of his small-town muffler shop and went on a rampage. This “tank” was a monstrosity built from metal, concrete, and one gigantic bulldozer. In the working day and several months after, that man became something of a folk hero, as you’d expect, considering he had singlehandedly constructed an unstoppable Killdozer. Plus, as it came out, he’d sought retaliation on powerful local interests who’d wronged him.

The real narrative is, as usual, a bit more complicated.


This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing You Learn Coming

There once was a alluring fellow named Marvin Heemeyer. He was a welder and businessman who operated a muffler store in Granby, Colorado. And then one fine June day, he drove a heavily armored Komatsu D3 55 A bulldozer through the wall of his store and started obliterating builds around Granby.

Pilgrim Studios

By the end of that rampage, 13 houses had been destroyed,$ 7-10 million in injury had been done, and Heemeyer had committed suicide. Leo Piechocki, researcher sergeant of the Grand County Sheriff’s office, was there.

“I was off-duty that day, in my driveway working on a car. I heard gunshots and sirens and I hear radio traffic about someone destroying buildings.” He would soon realize that he was going to have to spend his relaxing day off in a much less relaxing supervillain tank battle. After arriving on the scene, he started recording video, because handcuffs and mace are notably ineffective against 50-ton armored vehicles. This is not the sort of thing local police qualify for.

Patrick Brower was also there the working day. He was at work at a local newspaper when the Killdozer came to killdoze his office. Most of the staff evacuated, which is the smart call when someone is barreling toward you in a massive artisanal tank. But Brower and one of his co-workers bided to cover the rampage. “Suddenly the bulldozer goes in front of our office, makes a sharp right turn, and I watch the front wall of our office disintegrate only ten feet away from my very body at that time. So I was inside the building where reference is made it. I like to tell people if I had tripped, I might have died, but luckily I didn’t trip and we speedily operated out the back … “

This office wasn’t a random target. Brower and his paper had beef with Heemeyer going back times. But we’ll get to that. Brower next heard gunshots, the music of local cops ineffectually trying to shoot the thing, figuring they are likely as well try. They hit it 200 times without so much as bothering the tank or “the mens” inside. There “werent any” windows, only a series of video cameras hooked to monitors in the cockpit, the cameras themselves shielded by three inches of bulletproof glass. Heemeyer had invested months, maybe more than a year, building this growling juggernaut of vengeance.


The Killdozer Was Truly Unstoppable

Piechocki says that they attempted, and failed, to knock the Killdozer over with other bulldozers. But it “just knocked them out of the style like they were nothing … There is nothing you can pull out of your back pocket at such an event. So you were supposed to improvise.” One officer tried throwing a flashbang into the vehicle’s exhaust. Another climbed onto it, looking for a place to shoot in( this was not successful ).

Pilgrim Studios “Why didn’t they try to stop it with another construction truck? ” They did. It didn’t work.

Grant Whitus is a veteran SWAT officer and SWAT trainer who, along with his squad, was called into action that day. Side note: He was one of the first officers on the scene during the course of its Columbine shooting five years earlier. “[ I] was just coming onto shifting and they said they needed a squad with ballistic explosive abilities, so I said we’d be right there.”

It’s not clear whether Whitus considers that kind of request a great or awful behavior to start a work day. Either behavior, he and his squad drove out to Granby while Heemeyer rampaged through the town. Whatever scheme they had for halting the Killdozer( perhaps some kind of homemade Pacific Rim -style robot ?) rapidly became moot. The radiator on Heemeyer’s vehicle blew and the mighty machine is stuck as it destroyed one last house …

Pilgrim Studios

At that degree, Heemeyer drew out a. 357 caliber handgun and shooting himself in the head.

Whitus does not consider Marvin Heemeyer a hero( though some do — we’ll get to that too ), but there was obvious appreciation in his voice when he talked about the Killdozer itself, saying that one guy constructing such a thing was “nothing short of phenomenal.” He knows, because it was his chore to crack it open. After consulting with an expert on what exactly kind of charge it would take to open up a tank, they rigged one up and detonated it.

It made a small dent. That’s it.

Heemeyer had armored his dozer in layers of steel sheets and concrete slabs. The concrete absorbed the blast and rendered the Killdozer immune to an explosive that would’ve likely opened up an actual tank like a screen door. It would survive two more blasts before crews simply settled in to cut their lane through with blowtorches( a process which took hours ).

The point is, if the tank hadn’t broken down, the rampage could have continued until Heemeyer operated out of either gas or structures to flatten. There would have been no stopping it. According to Whitus, the Killdozer was one of those rare cases of an insane rampage that didn’t inspire any calls for new police equipment or training reforms. After learning the vehicle, it was concluded that there wasn’t a whole inferno of a lot they could do. “There was likely a handful of people in the world who could’ve “re coming” with something like this, ” says Whitus. “Will we see it again in our lifetime? Likely not.”


Then The Internet Became Him Into A Hero

Predictably, Heemeyer and the rampage became a meme. Here’s a video of the event set to Hulk Hogan’s theme song 😛 TAGEND

Here’s some fan artwork he inspired 😛 TAGEND

Cars 4 spoilers.

This one has a Confederate flag added to the front 😛 TAGEND

No explanation for the Pokemon.

Oh, Heemeyer never expressed any sympathies for the cause of the Confederacy( that we know of ), but he hardly needed to. The thing about vigilantes is that we tend to turn them into mythological figures, standing up for whatever induce we project onto them. The guy constructed a goddamned tank; he must have had a good reason.

Patrick Brower — the correspondent who was almost killdozed in his own office — tracked the story as it spread. “[ I] t was on front pages all across the country, in all regions of the world … the phrase ‘Killdozer’ started popping up. Because Killdozer is actually a movie that “re coming out” in the 1970 s, a very campy low-quality B-budget movie, and it was about a bulldozer that got possessed by an foreigner spirit.” When he said “campy, ” we’re pretty sure he meant “groundbreaking” and “transcendent, ” but such statements is otherwise accurate.

ABC The truck would play the Devastator’s leg in Transformers and Hamlet off-Broadway.

The internet thus immediately chose Heemeyer was a hero. Here he is on Badass of the Week, a popular Imgur gallery, and a viral Facebook post. Most of the positive coverage of the “Killdozer” quotes selections of Heemeyer’s audio manifesto 😛 TAGEND

“You meddled in my business, and took what I deserve away. You took advantage of my good nature. And another thing you are able to read is that when you visit evil upon someone, be assured it will revisit you, and that is what is happening.”

Brower thinks this started with a local radio host who took bellows from townsfolk who were sympathetic to Heemeyer, spreading the “Good man pushed too far” narrative. “People said that he’d welded himself inside the bulldozer. He knew it was a suicide mission, so he welded shut his own coffin.” That, he says, gave Heemeyer a “crazy, magical aura.”

Part of that narrative was that there were no handguns in the Killdozer, which would connote it was a tool of property ruin simply. There were in fact three rifles, two of them positioned in gun ports

Grand County Sheriffs Office

… including a goddamned. 50 caliber sniper rifle that burns a cartridge as long as your hand.

Most importantly, the early coverage painted Heemeyer as a victim of corrupted local authorities who’d ruined their own lives. It’s an image that stayed with billions of people around the world. It’s easy to determine why. If you take out the suicide component, the guy is basically Iron Man with less ambition and bigger balls.


In Real Life, Vigilantes Tend To Not Care About Collateral Damage

Most popular recitations of the narrative build Marvin Heemeyer sound like a hard-working salt of the earth kind who was badly mistreated by the System and given no option but to go on a rampage. His origin narrative on Badass of the Week said he was trying to make a living for himself running a small muffler repair shop. Regrettably, he was also in the business of getting royally fucked over by everyone in town, ranging from the paperboy to the asshats in City Hall who wouldn’t compromise with him on some crazy fucking wacky zoning issues he was trying to work out .

That’s the myth. The reality is that Heemeyer had previously owned a string of repair shops around Colorado. He had enough cash to buy a massive bulldozer and affix Killdozer upgrades.

Grand County Sheriffs Office That. 50 caliber rifle alone costs several thousand dollars new.

In the early ‘9 0s, Heemeyer got involved in a campaign to bring legalized gambling to the city, even launching his own newspaper to promote it. Patrick Brower’s paper had come out against the measure, which was eventually voted down. That’s the first time the local press and government wound up on Heemeyer’s bad side.

Around that time, Heemeyer bought a spot of land for $42,000 and opened another muffler store there. Several year later, a group looking to open a concrete batch plant offered to buy the land for $250,000. Heemeyer reportedly agreed, then later bumped the price up to $375,000, and perhaps ran as high as$ 1 million. Instead, the purchaser went to the city to rezone the ground around the store and construct there instead.

Heemeyer attempted to start a grassroots campaign to fight the flower. The problem was that the new plant would cut off patron access to his shop wholly — he apparently bought the bulldozer to create a new road, but permission for that was denied too. He lost his combat and was forced to sell the shop, at which point he immediately started constructing a Killdozer. The rampage used to come a year and a half afterwards; it was hardly done on impulse.

Did the zoning disagreement go badly for him? No uncertainty. Did he have multiple chances to avoid that outcome? It seems like it. Did the city leave him no choice but to do what he did? Well, most schools of morality posit that even in the most bitternes business disagreements, there are always non-Killdozer options.


It’s Sheer Dumb Luck That No One Died

Heemeyer’s bad temper and general cantankerousness were well-known enough that when his rampage started, Piechocki immediately knew that “the mens” in the homemade tank destroying the town had to be him. “I don’t think there was any question at the time who it was while it was still going down.” He added, “I seemed his purpose was to destroy as much property as he could in as short a day as he could.” Specifically the property of those who had wronged him. In addition to the newspaper, Heemeyer tore through the concrete flower, the town hall, a hardware store owned by another man he had a dispute with — he’d made a list. That’s where the noble vigilante tale comes into play. He wasn’t out to injure anybody, they say, just to do to others what they’d done to him.

But as Piechocki points out, the lack of a body count was down to pure luck. “When he assaulted the town hall, the library “re there”, and my son was in that library at that time. Gambles, the store he got stuck in , what happened if somebody was stuck in there? ” In reality, most of the buildings were occupied right up until the dwellers ran away hollering that a Killdozer was coming their way.

Pilgrim Studios

Pilgrim Studios So genuinely, more Attempedkilldozer.

Oh, and those gun ports weren’t for medal. Heemeyer at one point stopped to shoot at some huge propane tanks with that. 50 caliber. We’re not experts, but “firing high-caliber rifles at gigantic explosive tanks” does not seem like the sort of thing you do if you’re super concerned with avoiding civilian casualties( the police say that if they’d ruptured, anyone within half a mile would have been in danger ). Or maybe he was concerned, but figured the possible death of a random child or two was part of the cost of get justice for the death of his muffler shop.

The fact that the public was so eager to turning Heemeyer into a hero likely says less about him and more about our hilariously low the criteria for heroism.

Bulldozers and all such derivatives are best experienced in Hot Wheels form .

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