Marvin Heemeyer and His Killdozer Rampage Is a Story That’s Stranger Than Fiction

Some vehicles sport armored plating for various reasons, but one stands out. When it comes to weird car news, the tale of the “Killdozer” is one many people may have heard of but don’t know all the details. 

Marvin Heemeyer was the man behind the Killdozer. He built the contraption that wreaked havoc in Granby, Colorado, one summer day in the early 2000s. What was the Killdozer, and what prompted Heemeyer to use the armored vehicle against the town?

What drove Marvin Heemeyer to plan his rampage in the Killdozer?

The Killdozer in Granby, Colorado, on June 5, 2004
Marvin Heemeyer’s armored bulldozer in Granby, Colorado, on June 5, 2004 | Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Before getting into Heemeyer’s rampage, let’s go through what happened before he decided to take out a bunch of buildings in town. It began a few years earlier after he purchased the land where his muffler shop stood. 

According to ATI, a concrete business wanted to purchase it, so negotiations on the price began. Heemeyer wanted a pretty penny for the plot, but the plant owners weren’t interested in paying his high asking price. Eventually, they agreed, and he sold the land. 

However, the concrete company began building a plant on the lot. It angered Heemeyer because it blocked the path he used to get to work each day. 

He began to fight the problem with the city, but Granby ended up hitting him with fines for not having his shop hooked up to the sewer, which would cost him a lot of money to do. 

After three years of dealing with the saga, Heemeyer had had enough. He hatched a plan to exact revenge against those who had crossed him. 

What was the Killdozer? 

Heemeyer used a Komatsu D355A bulldozer to execute his plan. He fortified the machine into a tank of sorts. Heemeyer bought the heavy equipment to dig out a route from his home to his muffler shop. However, he was never able to complete that project. 

For a year and a half, he welded thick steel plates supported by layers of concrete to form a large unit of armor to make a bulletproof vehicle, which was legal in many states. His design, though, not so much.

He built the Killdozer to withstand explosives and gunfire. With the heavy plating covering much of the modified dozer, he needed a way to see where he was going. So Heemeyer installed an exterior video camera covered in bulletproof plastic. He also fashioned some gun ports on the outside. 

Heemeyer used two monitors to view outside while he sat inside the cockpit. He holed himself up inside the Killdozer with weapons, food, and air conditioning. However, his contraption didn’t include a way to exit the vehicle, so it’s unlikely he ever planned to get out.

What did Heemeyer do with his armored bulldozer?

On June 4, 2004, in Granby, Colorado, Marvin Heemeyer set out in his armored bulldozer by plowing through his shop’s wall and ramming the concrete plant adjacent to his lot. He then rolled into town, hitting homes and businesses that he reportedly felt wronged him during the zoning-and-concrete-factory fiasco.

During his rampage, he damaged about 13 buildings and broke the gas line to City Hall. Law enforcement tried unsuccessfully to stop him. Even the governor planned to use the National Guard to fire a missile from an Apache helicopter to end his path of destruction. But they didn’t need it. 

The last building Heemeyer plowed into was a hardware store, where the Killdozer became stuck. With no way out of his predicament, he used a gun to end his life inside the dozer.  

According to HowStuffWorks, it took crews a few hours to cut through the thick steel plating to pull Heemeyer out. They dismantled the Killdozer after the rampage. In the end, the 52-year-old killed no one (except himself), but he did $7 million worth of damage to the city.

Who would’ve thought that a local business owner would build a machine that would destroy much of the town? Plus, he did it over disagreements with the zoning committee and the construction of a concrete plant. It goes to show the lengths some people will go to when they believe they’ve been wronged.

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