Killdozer: A Case Study in Crazy
Marvin Heemeyer operated a small automobile muffler repair shop in the town of Granby, Colorado. Perhaps the term “town” is an overstatement— with a population of 1500, Granby, Colorado is more like a hamlet, one of many quiet, insignificant blips in Middle America. The tale of the dreaded Killdozer begins rather blandly with a zoning dispute between Heemeyer and a local cement manufacturer. Construction plans for a new cement processing plant restricted Heemeyer’s access a particular sewage line, an implementation that threatened the longevity of his muffler repair business. His appeals to the town’s zoning commission fell on deaf ears, and without any legal backing or support from the town, Heemeyer was left with no option but to sell his property. Instead of picking up his business and moving elsewhere like any sane man would do, Heemeyer instead spent the next six months meticulously plotting his revenge against his perceived enemies.
“Marvin stared blankly at the bulldozer sitting inside his soon-to-be-confiscated auto shop. A terrible vision flashed in his head, a frightening and seductive vision of things to come. He knew what he had to do now. The solution to all his problems…”
The instrument of destruction Heemeyer would use against his aggressors and the bureaucracy of Granby would come in the form of a modified Komatsu D355A bulldozer, lovingly dubbed the “Killdozer” by the press in the aftermath of Heemeyer’s rampage. The bulldozer was fitted with makeshift armor plating throughout its entire chassis— this foot-thick armor consisted of alternating layers of concrete and reinforced steel, effectively rendering the Killdozer completely impervious to firearms. Space within the armor was made for “murder holes” featuring mounted semi-automatic firearms, one of which included a .50 caliber Barrett M82 rifle (for those who know nothing about guns, this is one mean fucking rifle). The exterior was also outfitted with an elaborate security camera system, allowing visibility for the driver of the Killdozer. Heemeyer also built the vehicle to be environmentally contained and air tight in order to foil gas attacks, with life support and ample food and water supplies.
“Marvin sat in the driver’s seat, inhaling deeply as he turned the ignition key, feeling tremors through the steering wheel as his mechanized avatar of destruction hummed to life. Today would be a day to be remembered…”
On June 4, 2004, Heemeyer lowered himself into the Killdozer and welded the entrance shut from the inside. He then proceeded to drive his bulldozer through various buildings throughout Granby, specifically targeting the homes and businesses of residents who opposed him in the initial zoning disputes. Thirteen buildings in total were completely demolished by the Killdozer, including the concrete plant, the town hall, and the local newspaper publisher. Remarkably, not a single person was injured during Heemeyer’s ride of destruction; observers dispute whether he deliberately avoided harming individuals, or whether they were just lucky enough not to get in his way. Local law enforcement tried their best to stop the vehicle, with no success. Despite the use of explosives, small-arms fire, and even an attempt to force the Killdozer off the road with another bulldozer, the Killdozer continued its rampage largely unimpeded until it eventually blew out its engine trying to drive over the foundation of a demolished building. By the time law enforcement could cut its way through the armor plating (a task which took 12 hours), Heemeyer was found dead within the vehicle of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“As the dust settled, the residents of Granby emerged from the rubble, each trying to process the devastation in their own way. The town would rebuild and life would move on, but the seeds of distrust were permanently sown within the Granby community.”
The strange case of the Killdozer remains one of many examples of how intelligence, dedication, and devotion can all be put to terrible use. It also serves as a warning of the dangers of complacency— evidently, the Killdozer was stored within Heemeyer’s muffler shop throughout its various stages of construction, in full view of the visiting customers. What struck me the most about this story, however, is the bizarre sense of self-awareness that Heemeyer had about the whole Killdozer endeavor. The manifestos recovered from his property in the aftermath of the rampage indicate some semblance of rationality. One quote in particular stands out: “I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things.” I sincerely doubt that there are many Marvin Heemeyers out there willing to put the same level of devotion into a crusade of revenge, but the case of the Killdozer nevertheless demonstrates the human capacity for destruction when pushed to the point of desperation.