People Mark Anniversary of ‘Killdozer’ in Colorado-Truth! & Fiction! 

Summary of eRumor:

Social media posts in June 2017 marked the anniversary of a man named Marvin Heemeyer going on a rampage in Granby, Colorado, with a homemade “killdozer” in response to city officials ruining his muffler business.

The Truth: 

Claims about Marvin Heemeyer’s killdozer rampage in Granby, Colorado, are true — but important details have been left out or changed in the story’s retelling to portray Heemeyer in a more favorable light.

A man named Tyler Macfarlane posted an anniversary ode to the killdozer on his personal Facebook page on June 4, 2017. Macfarlane’s account, which portrays Marvin Heemeyer as a reasonable man pushed to the brink by over-zealous government officials, had been shared more than 100,000 times within a week of being posted:

Marvin Heemeyer was a man who owned a muffler shop in Granby Colorado. The city council ordained to approve the construction of a concrete factory in the lot across from Marvin’s shop. In the process this blocked the only access road to the muffler shop. Marvin petitioned to stop the construction to no avail. Petitioned to construct a new access road, and even bought the heavy machinery to do so himself. Denied.

The concrete factory went up in disregard to the ramifications on Marvin’s business. To add insult to injury, the factory construction disconnected the muffler shop from the city sewage lines. An indifferent city government then chose to fine Marvin for this.

Rather than “lie down and die,” the legend goes, Marvin Heemeyer chose to fight back and outfitted a bulldozer with a steel and concrete shell, bullet-proof glass, semi-automatic weapons and a camera system, creating an indestructible “killdozer” that he used to destroy 13 buildings in downtown Granby on June 4, 2004.

killdozer
Marvin Heemeyer’s killdozer was reinforced with concrete and steel armor and was outfitted with bulletproof glass, cameras, and guns.

News reports from the killdozer rampage indicate that those details are mostly true. Heemeyer had been using a vacant lot adjacent to his muffler shop as a way to access his business, and city zoning commissioners’ decision to approve a concrete plant at the site virtually cut-off access to Heemeyer’s business.

Additionally, Heemeyer was fined more than $2,500 for having junk cars and other debris on the property, and for not being hooked up to the city’s sewer line — so, while the Facebook post reports that the city disconnected Heeymeyer’s sewer line, i Heeymeyer’s business was actually never connected, Rocky Mountain News reports.

After appeals to the zoning board failed,  Heemeyer spent a year building the killdozer and then went on a spree of destruction on June 4, 2004, that ended with him committing suicide when the killdozer’s tracks got stuck on debris, the Denver Post reports.

But other important details have come to light since those early reports — and many of those facts have been left out of the story’s retelling. Heemeyer, for example, originally agreed to sell his property to the developer of the concrete plant for a pretty profit, but the deal fell apart because Heemeyer kept increasing the price, the Durango Telegraph reports:

The story of the batch plant also goes back to 1992, three years after Heemeyer had moved to the area. Heemeyer bought his two acres from the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency set up to handle the assets of failed savings and loan institutions. He bought the two acres for $42,000 but later agreed to sell it to the Docheff family, which wanted the property for a concrete batch plant, for $250,000. They agreed, but then he wanted $375,000 and at some later point wanted a deal worth approximately $1 million. All of this was well before the rezoning proposal hit town hall.

“I just think he set things up to the point where you would have to say no.'” said Susie Docheff in an interview with the Sky-Hi News. “He probably set you up to say no’ just so he could get mad at you.”

The same reports notes that while some have lauded Heemeyer for avoiding casualties and fatalities in his rampage, local police dismissed that praise, noting that he fired 15 rounds from a 0.50-BMG rifle at power transformers and propane tanks, and “Had these tanks ruptured and exploded, anyone within one-half mile of the explosion could have been endangered.”

So, while many of the details in the killdozer Facebook post are true, some important details have been left out or changed. That’s why we’re calling this one “truth” and “fiction.”

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 06/09/2017

Today is a special day. June 4th 2017 marks the 13th anniversary of the Killdozer’s rampage through Granby Colorado.

Sit down kids and let me tell you a tale, about a reasonable man driven to do unreasonable things.

Marvin Heemeyer was a man who owned a muffler shop in Granby Colorado. The city council ordained to approve the construction of a concrete factory in the lot across from Marvin’s shop. In the process this blocked the only access road to the muffler shop. Marvin petitioned to stop the construction to no avail. Petitioned to construct a new access road, and even bought the heavy machinery to do so himself. Denied.

The concrete factory went up in disregard to the ramifications on Marvin’s business. To add insult to injury, the factory construction disconnected the muffler shop from the city sewage lines. An indifferent city government then chose to fine Marvin for this.

His business and livelihood were in ruin. Rather than lie down and die, Marvin chose to fight back. Over the course of a year and a half Marvin secretly outfitted the bulldozer he bought to save his business with three foot thick steel and concrete armor, camera systems guarded with bulletproof glass.

On June 4th 2004 Marvin Heemeyer lowered the armored shell over top of himself, entombing himself inside the Killdozer to make his last stand.

He burst fourth from the walls of his muffler shop and straight into the concrete factory that ruined his business. Over the course of the next several hours Marvin drove his Killdozer through 13 buildings owned by those officials that had wronged him, including the city council building itself.

Swat teams swarmed the dozer, but it proved immune to small arms fire and even explosives. Another piece of heavy machinery was even brought out to fight the Killdozer, but it too fell to the dozers righteous fury.

In the end, Marvin’s Killdozer became trapped in one of the buildings it was built to destroy. Marvin chose to take his life, the only life he took that day.

Today we celebrate Killdozer day and Marvin Heemeyer, the last great American folk hero. A man driven to the brink who chose to fight back against an indifferent system.

From notes left behind after his passing:
“I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things.”