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Marvin Heemeyer

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Name  Marvin Heemeyer
A Banner of Marvin Heemeyer and his armored bulldozer

Full Name  Marvin John Heemeyer
Born  October 28, 1951 (1951-10-28)
Known for  Domestic terrorism, "Killdozer" rampage
Died  June 4, 2004, Granby, Colorado, United States

Cause of death  Self-inflicted gunshot

Marvin heemeyer gets angry with town council

On June 4, 2004, automobile muffler repair shop owner Marvin John Heemeyer drove his armored bulldozer through Granby, Colorado, damaging 13 buildings, with the cost of the damage rounding to an estimated $7 million. Heeymeyer's bulldozer rampage, which targeted other parties of a zoning dispute, ended ignominiously when Heemeyer committed suicide with a handgun inside his Komatsu D355A bulldozer. Heemeyer added improvised composite armor to his bulldozer consisting of layers of concrete and steel, creating what the media called a "killdozer".


Marvin Heemeyer wearing violet long sleeves, gray cap and eyeglasses

Marvin heemeyer a patriotic american


Marvin Heemeyer's close up shot

Marvin John Heemeyer (born October 28, 1951) was an American welder and muffler repair shop owner, who had been publicly feuding with Granby officials, particularly over fines for violating city ordinances and a zoning dispute regarding a concrete batch plant constructed opposite his muffler shop.

Marvin Heemeyer's armored bulldozer

Heemeyer lived in Grand Lake, Colorado, about 16 miles (26 km) away from Granby. According to a neighbor, Heemeyer moved to town more than 10 years before the incident. Heemeyer's friends stated that he had no relatives in the Granby–Grand Lake area.

Marvin Heemeyer's armored bulldozer

John Bauldree, a friend of Heemeyer, said that Heemeyer was a likable person. Ken Heemeyer said his brother "would bend over backwards for anyone". While many people described Heemeyer as an affable person, Christie Baker claimed that her husband was threatened by Heemeyer after refusing to pay for a disputed muffler repair. Baker said her husband later paid Heemeyer $124 via an intermediary.

Zoning dispute

Marvin Heemeyer wearing pink and blue striped long sleeves while on the upper right corner is Marvin Heemeyer's close up shot photo

In 1992, Heemeyer purchased 2 acres (0.81 hectares) of land from the Resolution Trust Corporation, the federal agency organized to handle the assets of failed savings and loan institutions. He purchased the land for $42,000 to build a muffler shop and subsequently agreed to sell the land to Mountain Park Concrete 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. Some believed that this negotiation happened before the rezoning proposal was heard by the town council.

Marvin Heemeyer on a television

In 2001, the zoning commission and the town's trustees approved the construction of a concrete batch plant. Heemeyer attempted to appeal the decisions, but were unsuccessful. For many years, Heemeyer had used the adjacent property as a way to get to his muffler shop. The plan for the concrete plant blocked that access. In addition to the frustration engendered by this dispute over access, Heemeyer was subsequently fined $2,500 by the Granby town council for various violations, including "junk cars on the property and not being hooked up to the sewer line".

As a last measure, Heemeyer petitioned the city with his neighbors and friends, only to no avail. He could not function without the sewer line and the cooperation of the town.

Bulldozer modification

Heemeyer leased his business to a trash company and sold the property several months before the rampage; he had purchased 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 it.

Notes found by investigators after the incident indicated that the primary motivation for the bulldozer rampage was his plan to stop a concrete plant from being built near his shop. These notes indicated that he held grudges over the zoning approval. "I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable", he wrote. "Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things." Heemeyer took about a year and a half to prepare; in his notes he wrote: "It is interesting to observe that I was never caught. This was a part-time project over a 1½ year time period." Clearly he was surprised that several men, who had visited the shed late the previous year, had not noticed the modified bulldozer "...especially with the 2000-pound lift fully exposed". "Somehow their vision was clouded", he wrote.

The machine used in the incident was a modified Komatsu D355A bulldozer, fitted with makeshift armor plating covering the cabin, engine, and parts of the tracks. In places, this armor was over 1 foot (30 cm) thick, consisting of 5000-PSI Quikrete concrete mix fitted between sheets of tool steel (acquired from an automotive dealer in Denver), to make ad-hoc composite armor. This made the machine impervious to small arms fire and resistant to explosives: indeed three external explosions and more than 200 rounds of ammunition fired at the bulldozer had no effect on it.

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 (76 mm) shields of bulletproof 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. He had made three gun-ports, fitted for a .50 caliber sniper rifle, a .308 semi-automatic, and a .22 long rifle, all fitted with a half-inch-thick (1.3 cm) steel plate. Heemeyer apparently had no intention of leaving the cabin once he entered it. Authorities speculated that he 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 believed that Heemeyer built the vehicle and found cement and armor steel.

Only Heemeyer died in the event (by a self-inflicted gun shot), but afterwards, the modified bulldozer came to be known as "Killdozer" (similar to the name of a story written by Theodore Sturgeon).


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 a few others. Owners of all of the buildings that were damaged had some connection to Heemeyer's disputes.

The rampage lasted for two hours and seven minutes, damaging 13 buildings, knocking out natural gas service to City Hall and the concrete plant, damaging a truck, and part of a utility service center. Despite the great damage to property, no one besides Heemeyer was killed. The cost of the damage rounded to an estimated $7 million. 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.

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 argued the fact that no one was injured was not due to good intent as much as it must have been due to luck. 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 (800 m) of the explosion could have been endangered", the sheriff's department said; within such a 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 wheel tractor-scraper, which was pushed aside by Heemeyer's bulldozer. Later, Heemeyer fired on two state patrol officers before they had fired at him. The sheriff's department also noted 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.

One officer dropped a flash-bang grenade down the bulldozer's exhaust pipe, with no immediate apparent effect. Local and state patrol, 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 3-inch (7.6 cm) bulletproof 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.

At this point, local authorities and the Colorado State Patrol feared they were running out of options in terms of firepower, and that Heemeyer would soon turn against civilians in Granby. It was alleged that then-Colorado Governor Bill Owens considered authorizing the National Guard to utilize either an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter equipped with a AGM-114 Hellfire missile or a two-man fire team equipped with a FGM-148 Javelin anti tank missile to destroy the bulldozer, and that the option was later deemed unnecessary due to Heemeyer getting stuck in the Gambles hardware store. As of 2011, those on Governor Owens' staff have vehemently denied that such a course of action was considered. However, members of the State Patrol have since confirmed that the option was considered, but the governor ultimately decided against it due to the hypothetical collateral damage of a missile strike in the heart of Granby potentially being significantly higher than what Heemeyer could have committed with his bulldozer.

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, but couldn't get out. 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. It was later determined that Heemeyer had shot himself in the head with a .357-caliber handgun.

Police first used explosives in an attempt to remove the steel plates, but after the third explosion failed, they cut through them with an oxyacetylene cutting torch. Grand County Emergency Management Director Jim Holahan stated that authorities were able to access and remove Heemeyer's body at 2:00 a.m. on June 5.

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.


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 2.5 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 name."

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.


Marvin Heemeyer Wikipedia