Marvin Heemeyer thought he was a victim. “Enough is enough,” he said into a tape recorder weeks before he drove an armored bulldozer through Granby, exacting revenge on townsfolk who he believed had wronged him.
Since moving to Granby in the early ’90s, he had been embattled in squabbles over sewer lines, zoning codes and gambling laws — the stuff that fills small-town newspapers everywhere. Most people involved in those sorts of feuds take them to court, gossip over trivial injustices, or simply find a way to work things out. But Heemeyer had tried all that, even briefly starting a newspaper of his own.
He won some fights and lost others, but ultimately he felt wronged and wanted the last word, in the ultimate punishment of his enemies. So on June 4, 2004, he drove his contraption through the biggest town in Grand County, smashing into buildings owned or occupied by those he felt had wronged him. He destroyed a concrete- forming plant, the offices of Mountain Parks Electric, the town hall, Liberty Savings Bank, the Sky-Hi News headquarters, Xcel Energy, private homes and other small businesses. He shot .50-caliber bullets at propane tanks and electric transformers in a failed attempt to blow up Granby. Ultimately, he killed himself inside the bulldozer.
In a private recording before the attack, he detailed his motives. “I am an American patriot. I believe in the free enterprise system. I believe in a level playing field of competition. If you want to change that level playing field of competition to your advantage, basically you give me that opportunity to do that also when my opportunity comes around.”
In the aftermath of the rampage, bloggers and locals alike began to justify and even celebrate Heemeyer’s attack on the town, treating him in turns as an anti-hero and a patriot resisting government corruption.
Patrick Brower, who was the editor of Sky-Hi News at the time and a target of Heemeyer's, witnessed much of the rampage. He chronicles this oddball bit of Colorado history in his pulse-raising book, Killdozer: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage, which strongly argues against Heemeyer's hero status.
At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 24, Brower will be speaking at the Alamo Drafthouse Littleton, 7301 South Santa Fe Drive, at a screening of Tread, Paul Solet’s new documentary about the rampage, which premieres in theaters statewide February 21. Tickets are $12.50 and available at drafthouse.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.