This man went on a bulldozer rampage to enact revenge on his town
This month marks the 14th anniversary of 'Killdozer Day', when one man went on a rampage through Granby, Colorado. Marvin Heemeyer was the culprit, and he even became a folk hero to some after story spread - but does the man who damaged more than a dozen buildings as an act of revenge deserve this reputation?
Heemeyer's revenge plot came about after a concrete factory was allowed to be built across the street from his muffler shop. One viral Facebook post details how Heemeyer petitioned to stop the construction, which was approved by the city council, and suggested to construct a new access road instead.
According to this post, his petitions were denied and eventually, to add insult to injury, his shop was disconnected from sewage lines - for which he paid a fine.
Over the course of 18 months, he secretly outfitted the bulldozer he bought to save his business with three-foot thick steel and concrete armour, and camera systems guarded with bulletproof glass.
He entombed himself inside the 'Killdozer' and spent several hours driving through the concrete factory that ruined his business and 13 buildings owned by the officials that wronged him - including the city council building. Eventually, the bulldozer was trapped under rubble, and Marvin took his own life.
This viral post described him as "the last great American folk hero" who "chose to fight back against an indifferent system". Reportedly, notes left behind by Heemeyer read:
"I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things."
However, as Snopes has reported, this viral post did omit a few details.
The full story includes what happened in 1992, three years after Heemeyer moved to the area. Before the construction of the factory was permitted, Heemeyer was offered $250,000 for his land by the Docheff family. He initially agreed to sell, but backed out after asking for more - raising his price first to $375,000, then $1 million.
"I just think he set things up to the point where you would have to say 'no'," said Susie Docheff in an interview with Sky-Hi News. "He probably set you up to say 'no' just so he could get mad at you."
Another fact often glossed over is that, while Heemeyer didn't kill anyone, he was armed with a semi-automatic rifle. Through two gunports, Marvin allegedly fired at power transformers and propane tanks. "Had these tanks ruptured and exploded, anyone within one-half mile of the explosion could have been endangered," the sheriff’s department explained, the vicinity including 12 police officers and residents of a senior citizens complex.
When Cody Docheff tried to stop the assault on the concrete batch plant, Heemeyer fired at him, and later shot at two state troopers. In addition to this, 11 of the 13 buildings targeted were occupied only moments earlier.
Investigators later found a list he had made before the attack, which included the buildings he attacked, as well as several names, including the mayor and several local business owners. Casey Farrell, the owner of a hardware store that was destroyed by Heemeyer, said that it took him more than seven years to rebuild his store.
Speaking to Sky-Hi on the 10th anniversary of the incident, he said:
"My world just turned upside down, but I thought ‘Well OK, we’ve got insurance.’ We did. Just not enough.
"It’s not that I don’t feel safe, but it’s changed the way that you look at people, at stuff. I don’t know how to put it into words, really."
According to a series of audiotapes made two months before the rampage, and released by investigators afterwards, Heemeyer believed he was on a mission from God. "God blessed me in advance for the task that I am about to undertake. It is my duty," the recording detailed. "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."
As well as endangering lives, Heemeyer's rampage caused approximately $7 million of damage to the area, with patrol cars, service trucks, and at least one pickup truck destroyed that day. Patrick Brower, an editor who worked at the newsroom targeted by Heemeyer, said:
"I’ve seen that the way people have venerated Marv and praised him after the fact – without even really knowing what happened or the facts of the situation – has been repeated in many other rampages and tragedies in America since then.
"How many people lose petty zoning fights with government in America? Everybody, all the time. That’s not an excuse to go out and tear the town to pieces and shoot at people."
So, while many believe that Heemeyer was a heroic individual righting the wrongs done to him by an uncaring government, the truth is much darker than that.