Every now and then, something happens in the real world that sounds like something out of a novel or movie. The events of June 4, 2004 in Granby, Colorado were just such an event. It began with a series of disputes between Heemeyer and various entities in Granby which included the city council and local businesses. The first such dispute was between Heemeyer and the Doucheff family. Heemeyer owned a muffler shop in Granby, and the Doucheff family wanted to buy the land in order to build a concrete batch factory there. The Doucheffs offered Heemeyer $250,000 for the land, which was very generous considering he’d originally bought it for $42,000. At first Heemeyer was fine with the deal, but later he kept increasing his asking price to the point where the Doucheff’s were unable or unwilling to buy.
The next round of conflict came when the zoning council approved a cement manufacturing plant on an adjacent property, which would essentially cut Heemeyer’s muffler shop off from road access and strangle his business. Heemeyer fought the measure but failed. He was also fined for not being hooked to the city sewer system, but when he tried to get permission to cross the cement factory’s land in order to hook into the sewers he was denied. With no other recourse, Heemeyer was forced to sell his land to a trash company.
Heemeyer was ruined, but he had a plan for revenge that looked like something out of a Stephen King novel. He put his entire self into his project, using his muffler shop to convert his D355A bulldozer into a homemade tank complete with concrete and steel composite armor, a jury rigged camera system, and gun ports. The modified bulldozer has since become known as “the Killdozer”.
On July 4, 2004, Heemeyer took “the Killdozer” on a destructive joy ride through the streets of Granby, using the bulldozer as a battering ram to destroy the property of those who wronged him. This included the cement factory, the city council building, the former mayor’s house, and several businesses. He crushed several automobiles as well, and took pot shots at propane tanks and a power transformer.
Police acted quickly to try and stop the rampage, but there was little they could do against the rogue piece of construction equipment and its driver. Bullets could not penetrate the steel and concrete shell, nor could whatever explosives police and SWAT could muster. Rumor has it that a call had been put in to the National Guard, calling for anti-armor weaponry should the police be unable to stop the attack. So far I’ve not seen anything to verify that, though.
Such a dramatic intervention was not necessary. The Killdozer fell into a shallow basement after Heemeyer destroyed a local hardware store and was unable to escape. Police closed in, and heard a single muffled gun shot from within. All went quiet. The rampage was over, with Heemeyer as the only casualty.
Another rumor around this whole event is that Heemeyer deliberately avoided harming anyone. This is bolstered by some eye witness testimony, but Heemeyer’s actions show otherwise. He took shots at police and he attempted to blow up propane tanks. In addition, after his death police found a hit list of buildings and people in the Killdozer, so he probably would have killed had he seen the people on his list. It seems that the quick actions of the local authorities in evacuating people from the area of the attack were more responsible for the lack of casualties than anything Heemeyer intended.
In the years since, Heemeyer has become something of a folk hero for his stand against those who wronged him. As a result, the authorities destroyed the Killdozer and sold the parts for scrap, so that collectors couldn’t buy parts of it for memorabilia. Granby has rebuilt, but from now on it will be known as the town that bred the Killdozer.