"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." ---
Marvin Heemeyer was a skillful welder and owner of a muffler repair shop. He lived in Grand Lake, about 16 miles away from Granby, Colorado. Granby is a small town with only 2500 people. Heemeyer moved to town about 10 years prior to the incident. In 1992, Heemeyer bought 2 acres of land from the Resolution Trust Corp. 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.) ---
In 2001, the zoning commission and the town's trustees approved the construction of a cement manufacturing plant. Heemeyer had objected, saying it harmed his business. For many years, Heemeyer had used the adjacent property as a way to get to his muffler shop. As Heemeyer didn't want to sell his land to the plant, they started doing everything possible to make it possible. They blocked the adjacent property that served as the access to his shop.
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.
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 indicated Heemeyer held grudges over the zoning approval. "Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things", Heemeyer wrote. 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 dropped dust on his business, and also blocked access to his business.
All the rejections, non cooperation of town authorities and his bank was the last straw for Heemeyer. Soon, he leased his business to a trash company and sold 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 to take his revenge.
Heemeyer took about a year and a half to prepare for his rampage. The machine used in the incident was a Komatsu D355A bulldozer fitted with makeshift armor plating covering the cabin, engine and parts of the tracks. In places, the vehicle's armor was over one foot thick, consisting of concrete sandwiched between sheets of steel to make ad-hoc composite armor. For visibility, the bulldozer was fitted with a video camera linked to two monitors mounted on the vehicle's dashboard. 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. Food, water and life support were present in the almost airtight cabin. Heemeyer had no intention of ever leaving the cabin once he entered; the hatch was permanently sealed. 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. For armament the bulldozer was fitted with a .50 caliber semi-automatic Barrett M82 rifle pointing out to the rear, a semi-auto variant of the FN FNC in front, a .223 Ruger Mini-14 to the right, a 9mm Kel-Tec P-11 semi-auto pistol.
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.
Heemeyer's rampage resulted in 13 buildings destroyed, resulting in total damages estimated at over $7 million. The bulldozer also knocked out natural gas service to City Hall and the cement plant, and damaged a truck and part of a utility service center. Despite the great damage to property, no one besides Heemeyer was killed.
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. At one point during the rampage, Undersheriff Glenn Trainor managed to climb atop the bulldozer and, in the words of Allen Best, rode the bulldozer "like a bronc-buster, trying to figure out a way to get a bullet inside the dragon."
Defenders of Heemeyer contended that he made a point of not hurting anybody during his bulldozer rampage eve, if Heemeyer fired back at the police officers.He 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? He also 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.
Two things conspired against Heemeyer as he reduced the Gambles hardware store to rubble. 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 and couldn't get out. 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 stated that Heemeyer used his .357-caliber handgun to kill himself.