June 24, 2004, is the day that the people of Granby, Colorado, will never forget. It was the day when more than a dozen of buildings were wrecked down by a rampaging bulldozer in a meticulously planned demolition project.

Neither the city nor construction workers put together the plan, however.

The multimillion worth of damage was the brainchild of an angry man named Marvin Heemeyer, who felt the city had failed him.

Horrified residents ran for their lives as Heemeyer, in his armor-plated bulldozer, drove through buildings and other vehicles on his way.

An accomplished welder, Heemeyer outfitted a bulldozer with two sheets of half-inch steel plating and a layer of concrete between them.

On that day, he practically sealed himself in the heavy-duty vehicle and took off on a violent ride.

He had cameras and video monitors inside the cockpit to see where he was going. Among the destroyed properties were a bank, a library, a concrete factory, and the town’s police department.

Some accounts hail him as the “last great American folk hero,” while another version considers him simply a lunatic. Here are the facts.

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10 Zoning Dispute

A simple way to describe the event is that Marvin Heemeyer built a tank and destroyed thirteen buildings because he lost a zoning dispute.

He felt the town of Granby took the easement to his muffler shop, forcing him to close down the business.

A local journalist and the author of “KILLDOZER: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage,” Patrick Brower, claims that the town of Granby neither took nor blocked an easement to Heemeyer property, so there must be another reason behind the rampage.

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9 Fake News

Many people think of Heemeyer as a victim of an indifferent government, which approved the construction of a concrete factory without considering the possible impact on his businesses.

Admittedly there is some truth to the argument, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The false depiction that put Heemeyer in a “victim” position started with a blog post containing an inaccurate background story.

The fake news in the blog claimed that the town of Granby had taken the easement of Heemeyer – assuming it had been true, such a decision would have ruined Heemeyer’s business indeed.



8 A $250,000 Anger

Heemeyer’s business establishment was located in a two-acre land he had bought from Resolution Trust Corp.

The now-defunct temporary federal agency tasked to handle failed savings and loan crisis in the 1980s. He paid $42,000 for the land.

Later on, Heemeyer agreed to sell the property to the Docheff family, who wanted it to construct a concrete factory for $250,000.

He backed out and asked $375,000 instead. At some point, he increased the asking price to a million dollars. All this happened well before the rezoning proposal hit the town hall.

7 Maintenance Easement

In a recorded conversation, there was a discussion about “easement.” Still, it was more specifically about “maintenance easement” if Heemeyer had wanted to hook up his property to local water and sewer lines.

If installed, the service lines would have crossed a neighbor’s property, hence maintenance easement. 

No one tried to prevent him from having the service lines installed – neither the sanitation board nor the town. To have it installed, Heemeyer would have needed to acquire the easement first.

The easement could be expensive depending on the size of the area covered – this rule applies to everybody, not just Heemeyer.

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6 Unjustified Victims

Some people also used the argument that Heemeyer only targeted the people who had wronged him; therefore, he was a folk hero.

The town hall was responsible for the approval to rezone the land surrounding his property. The concrete factory also did not consider his position when it applied for rezoning in the first place.

That said, some of his victims were impossible to justify. For example, when he blasted through the town’s library, a children’s program was in progress.

The late Mayor L.R. “Dick” Thompson’s 82-year-old widow was living at the home that he destroyed as well.

5 Insane Rampage

From an objective point of view, Heemeyer was a man with an unjustifiable grudge who drove a tank-like vehicle at a populous town and deliberately crashed it into multiple properties. In other words, he was simply insane.

His action destroyed business establishments, wrecked several emergency vehicles, and endangered the lives of police officers.

Heemeyer could have killed people had the law enforcement failed to evacuate buildings just in time.

He even attempted to shoot at least one civilian and fired some shots at propane tanks in an attempt to create an explosion.

4 A Tank In Town

Not only did Heemeyer armor a bulldozer with bulletproof metal plates and concrete, but he also outfitted the vehicle with a .50 caliber rifle, a 308 semi-automatic, and a 22 long rifle.

Due to the metal fortification, he was essentially sealed inside the car without any easy way to get out.

Heemeyer assembled the vehicle for nearly a year and a half. And on Friday, June 4, 2004, he began the brutal atrocity he is known for now. Nobody saw that coming.

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3 Recovering Town

Even today, the town of Granby still has not fully recovered from the attack. Patrick Brower, whose newsroom was also destroyed that day, argues that Heemeyer should not be considered a folk hero.

According to Brower, the way people praised Heemeyer has been repeated in some other tragedies across the country since then.

People lose zoning fights in the United States; it is not an uncommon occurrence and never an excuse to shoot at neighbors and destroy a town.

2 Bulletproof Bulldozer

Heemeyer’s homemade metal and concrete plating was effective that even armor-piercing bullets couldn’t penetrate the vehicle.

A heavy equipment operator attempted to block the bulldozer on the road, but it too was pushed away by the bulldozer.

Heemeyer was speeding right ahead, aiming directly for the blockage. Realizing the threat, the heavy equipment operator attempted to flee but not before the bulldozer had rammed it off the road.

In the recorded video, the scene was like a game of chicken of an industrial scale.

1 A Tragic End

Moments later, when Heemeyer struck a target in a narrow opening between several buildings, the front loader truck made another attempt to block the bulldozer’s way out.

In the middle of a rampage, the bulldozer’s engine finally gave up and ground to a halt.

As authorities tried to enter the bulldozer’s cockpit, Heemeyer called it quits and took his own life. Officers spent several hours and cutting the torch to unseal the vehicle from the outside.

None of the townspeople were hurt during the episode, but the damage inflicted was in the range of 7 t0 10 million dollars.

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