Man in Bulldozer Rampage Found Dead

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by MacNut, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Man in Bulldozer Rampage Found Dead

    GRANBY, Colo. (June 5) - A muffler shop owner who plowed a makeshift armored bulldozer into several buildings after a dispute with city officials was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after a SWAT team cut their way into the machine with a blowtorch early Saturday, authorities said.

    Grand County Emergency Management Director Jim Holahan confirmed that the driver, identified by the town manager as Marvin Heemeyer, appeared to have shot himself.
    An armed man reportedly upset about a zoning dispute hit buildings with a bulldozer in Granby, Colo. (KMGH News)

    Heemeyer plowed the armor-plated bulldozer into the town hall, a former mayor's home and at least five other buildings Friday before the machine ground to a halt in the wreckage of a warehouse.

    City officials said he was angry over a zoning dispute and fines from city code violations at his business.

    Authorities detonated three explosions and fired at least 200 rounds against the heavy steel plates welded to the bulldozer, which looked like an upside down Dumpster. After the third explosion failed, officials cut their way in with a blowtorch, Holahan said.

    A statement from Grand County Undersheriff Glen Trainor said the driver was found around 2 a.m.

    Holahan said Heemeyer was armed with a .50-caliber weapon but appeared to be deliberately avoiding injuring anyone during the rampage, which began Friday at about 3 p.m. No other injuries were reported.

    Trainor said the dozer's armor plates consisted of two sheets of half-inch steel with a layer of concrete between them.

    Grand County Commissioner Duane Daley said Heemeyer apparently used a video camera and two monitors found inside to guide the dozer. Two guns were mounted in front and aimed through portals. Other portals were cut in the back.

    It was unclear how many guns were found with Heemeyer. Authorities speculated Heemeyer he may have used a homemade crane found in his garage to lower the armor hull over the dozer and himself.

    ''Once he tipped that lid shut, he knew he wasn't getting out,'' Daly said.

    Investigators searched the garage where they believe Heemeyer built the vehicle and found cement, armor and steel.

    Residents of this mountain tourist town of 2,200 described a bizarre scene as the bulldozer slowly crashed through buildings, trees and lampposts, with dozens of officers walking ahead or behind it, firing into the machine and shouting at townspeople to flee.
    "It looked like a futuristic tank."
    -Rod Moore, shop owner

    ''It looked like a futuristic tank,'' said Rod Moore, who watched the dozer rumble past within 15 feet of his auto garage and towing company.

    One officer, later identified as Trainor, was perched on top, firing shot after shot into the top and once dropping an explosive down the exhaust pipe.

    ''He just kept shooting,'' Moore said. ''The dozer was still going. He threw what looked like a flash-bang down the exhaust. It didn't do a thing.''

    A flash-bang produces a blinding flash and earsplitting boom designed to stun a suspect.

    ''Gunfire was just ringing out everywhere,'' said Sandra Tucker, who saw the bulldozer begin the rampage from her office on Main Street. ''It sounded to me like an automatic rifle, firing about every second.''

    At least 40 deputies, Colorado State Patrol officers, federal park and forest rangers and a SWAT team from nearby Jefferson County were at the scene.

    Town manager Tom Hale said Heemeyer was angry after losing a zoning dispute that allowed a cement plant to be built near his muffler shop. Heemeyer also was fined $2,500 in a separate case for not having a septic tank and for other city code violations at his business, Hale said.

    When he paid the fine, he enclosed a note with his check saying ''Cowards,'' Hale said.

    ''We felt he was venting his frustration that he didn't get his way,'' Hale said of the note. ''We didn't think he was going to do something like this.''

    Trainor said he believes Heemeyer spent months armoring the bulldozer, and investigators were looking into whether he had help.

    Hale said owners of all the buildings that were damaged had some connection to Heemeyer's disputes.

    The buildings included the cement plant, a utility company, a bank, a newspaper office, a hardware store and warehouse, the home of former Mayor L.R. ''Dick'' Thompson and the municipal building, which also housed a library.

    Crumpled patrol cars and service trucks lay in the dozer's path. A pickup was folded nearly in half and had been rammed through the wall of a building.

    Gov. Bill Owens traveled Friday night to Granby, about 50 miles west of Denver and 10 miles south of Rocky Mountain National Park.

    State aid will be available to help rebuild local government buildings, and state officials will help businesses seek federal help, said Mike Beasley, director of the state Department of Local Affairs.

    William Hertel, owner of High Altitude Audio, said the bulldozer drove by his business at mid-afternoon, crushing aspen trees and light poles after the rampage began around 3 p.m.

    ''I was up on the roof when he came by. I got down and got my wife and kids out of the back of the building,'' Hertel said. He said he had heard numerous shots.

    The scene was reminiscent of a 1998 rampage in Alma, another town in the Colorado Rockies. Authorities said Tom Leask shot a man to death, then used a town-owned front-end loader to heavily damage the town's post office, fire department, water department and town hall.
  2. virividox macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    thats some crazy stuff

    its such a tragedy that he had to end his life
  3. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    If he had nothing to live for... Revenge is a good way to go.
  4. andrewm macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Bulldozers, frontloaders, and... tanks? Oh my!

    Some military-oriented approaches--at least two I have seen mentioned in news articles--involved the use of armoured tanks to rampage, for lack of a better word.

    In one case a man stole a tank (was it after his girlfriend left him? I'm not sure). They must be somewhere on the internet. I should mention that in this case a police officer, finally managed to climb aboard, and an easy trip from there involved the use of bolt-cutters on the hatch. When the occupant refused to stop driving, he was shot with a bullet, and apparently died from it.

    Rather scary that some people consider this form of reactive violence a decent response to their qualms. Although the Iraq war--er, <i>police action</i>--comes to mind, I'm not overly sure about whether this is truly analogous--so let's not start a war here over it.
  5. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Silly reporters. :p You aren't going to be cutting through two half-inch steel plates with a propane blowtorch, you need and Oxy-Acetylene cutting torch for that. Although I'm not sure if that would make it through the cement...
  6. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Somebody mentioned gasoline and a match as the easier method for making the guy want to come out of a steel plated tractor quick.

    Though once it starts burning, use some diesel to kick it up a notch and really heat things up inside.
  7. kylos macrumors 6502a


    Nov 8, 2002
    That's brilliant!!! I don't know what else to say. That's hilarious!
  8. Macmaniac macrumors 68040


    I think this happened in LA a decade ago, some guy got really angry, I think it was girlfriend, so he walked into his local army reserve and stole a tank, it was rather amazing to watch this unfold, it would have been a lot scarier if the gun had been loaded. He almost took out several bridges. :eek:
  9. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I sorta remember that the tank thing was in San Diego. Or maybe I'm confusing it with "Jurassic Park, The Lost World"!
  10. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    That is a very sad story. Thankfully no other life's were lost. My prayers go out to his family and friends. :(
  11. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Well, they sure weren't cutting through it while he was moving. If they acetylene tank fell... :eek:

    And diesel doesn't burn very well, that's why it has to be mixed with air and compressed, then heat from the block and possibly glow plugs will ignite it.
  12. theimacguy macrumors regular


    Mar 7, 2004
  13. parrothead macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2003
    Edmonds, WA
    The tank thing people were talking about happened in LA. I have seen footage of it several times on those "World's Craziest Police Chases" shows. It is incredible to watch this huge tank crush everything in its path.

    It's funny cause all the cops in colorado had to do was put the explosives on the bulldozer's tracks, not on the armor. Then it would have been stopped and they could have taken their time getting the guy out.
  14. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Actually it burns really well, you just have to get it hot enough.

    Get a diesel fire going and it'll melt the road and melt some of the metal parts on the car.
  15. Rocksaurus macrumors 6502a


    Sep 14, 2003
    My Hero

    I just wanted to say that this guy is my hero, honestly, that is so cool, if you've seen the image of the homemade tank, I think you'd understand it better. I put the article up in my room. If he was still alive, I'd ask for his autograph
  16. adamjay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    wow, i guess that answers the age old question of "to build a tank or not?"

    apparantly its hazardous to your health and i'd like to live to be 90.
  17. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Oh yeah. Silly me. I think I should rephrase, "And diesel doesn't ignite very well, that's why it has to be compressed. Then the heat from compression and the glow plugs will do the trick"

    Better? :D
  18. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    ah hahaha, that might be the best thing I ever read. When I go, I'm definitely going out like that. Man, I gotta get me some footage of this.

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