Take a look back at the infamous “Killdozer” rampage from 2004. Some people throw things when they’re unhappy, others convert their bulldozer into a tank and destroy half their town. Marvin John Heemeyer chose the latter option after losing a zoning dispute.
The Zoning Dispute
Twelve years before the Killdozer rampage, Heemeyer purchased 2 acres of land from the Resolution Trust Corporation for $42,000. He built a muffler shop and used the land to store a variety of cars in various state of disrepair.
Heemeyer eventually agreed to sell the land to the Docheff family of Mountain Park Concrete. According to Susan Docheff, Heemeyer agreed to sell the land for $250,000 but later raised the price to $375,000 and eventually $1 million.
In 2001, town trustees and the zoning commission approved the construction of a concrete batch plant on the land adjacent to Heemeyer’s muffler shop. Heemeyer had been using that land to access his shop, but the new plant would leave his normal route permanently blocked. To make matters worse, the town council fined Heemeyer $2,500 for “junk cars on the property and not being hooked up to the sewer line.”
Marvin John Heemeyer’s Homemade Tank, “The Killdozer”
The outraged welder and auto mechanic outfitted his Komatsu D355A bulldozer with homemade armor plating.
Using 5000 psi Quikrete concrete mix layered between sheets of tool steel, Heemeyer covered his cabin, engine, and portions of his tracks with 1 foot thick armor plates. He mounted multiple cameras around the exterior which could be viewed by multiple monitors mounted to the dashboard.
This man was so outraged he was willing to destroy a town, but maintained the thoughtful composure to include air jets that would blast dust away from the camera lenses. Now that’s planning ahead!
Weapons Of The Homemade Tank
Heemeyer also added multiple gun ports for his .50 caliber, .308 caliber, and .22 caliber rifles. Once his machine was finished, the rampage began. Local police in Granby, Colorado were completely helpless to stop the improvised tank. The 200+ rounds of ammunition fired at the tank-dozer may as well have been spitballs and the three explosives they planted on the armor did literally jack squat.
The Killdozer’s End
Heemeyer’s rampage lasted for just over two hours. In that time more than 13 buildings, including Heemeyer’s muffler shop, the concrete plant, and the town hall, were all badly damaged. Despite firing 15 rounds at propane tanks and power transformers, no one was injured in Heemeyer’s rampage. The town estimated damages to be around $7 million.
Officers attempted to stop the tank with small arms fire and flash-bang grenades, which had no effect. Undersheriff Glenn Trainor climbed on top of the homemade tank, bu could find no way to fire inside the cabin. Trainor was eventually forced to climb down.
The rampage finally ended when Heemeyer struck the Gambles hardware store and two things happened simultaneously. First, the dozer’s radiator had become badly damaged and was leaking, which caused the engine to fail. Second, one tread had broken through the floor into the hardware store’s basement and become stuck. Unable to escape, Heemeyer took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot.
Authorities later discovered a homemade remote control crane Heemeyer used to mount the armor hull over his cabin after he was already inside. Heemeyer had no way to remove the hull without help. Authorities believe the disgruntled man clearly had no intention of leaving the tank alive.
Authorities later found several recordings and letters written by Heemeyer explaining his motive. “God built me for this job,” he said in a recording made two weeks before the rampage. “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.”