Some of you may be waking up to news that a gunman is in a standoff with Dallas police, holing himself up in a heavily armored van. A heavily armed assailant in an armored vehicle is rather unusual due to the time and effort it takes to improvise one, usually the best or only means such people have towards obtaining an armored vehicle. Almost exactly 11 years ago, a man in Granby, Colorado managed to improvise his own tank and create a massive rampage that took out large chunks of the town.

Marvin Heemeyer was in a zoning dispute with the ownership of a cement processing facility complaining that their operations interrupted his own muffler shop. He had been in ownership of a Komatsu bulldozer used to improve access to his own property, and after apparently feeling that more traditional and civil efforts had been fruitless, began armoring it with scrap metal. Upon completion he sealed himself inside with no access out, leading investigators to believe this had always been intended as a kamikaze mission. In addition to the raw brute strength of the bulldozer itself it was also armed with a .50-caliber anti-material rifle Heemeyer had somehow obtained and other small arms, including a pistol Heemeyer included apparently to specifically kill himself with. Control of the “killdozer” was remarkably sophisticated including the use of cameras to see outside the vehicle.

On June 4, 2004 Heemeyer went on his rampage, destroying 11 buildings and damaging two others including the town library. Remarkably, the only eventual victim (aside from property) would be Heemeyer himself at his own care of avoiding civilian deaths (though many of the destroyed buildings were evacuated only minutes before). Police were baffled as to how to stop the crudely made tank, for the most part being stuck carefully walking besides it with their shoulders shrugged. When Heemeyer attacked the concrete processing facility, the desperate police even tried to directly duel with the killdozer using other construction equipment on hand to no avail.

At that point authorities concluded that the only way to end the rampage would be to call in dedicated anti-tank assets from Buckley Air Force Base near Denver, but before that call could be made the tank got itself stuck in the basement of a hardware store it had just demolished. Realizing the gig was up, Heemeyer took his own life just as he planned. Police then swarmed the tank and after determining the assailant dead slowly began to dismantle it. Thus ended the darkest and most bizarre chapter of this otherwise quiet mountain town.


UPDATE: Nobi was nice enough to provide some more information in the comments:

There’s more to the backstory than this. Apparently the Mayor of the town was trying to buy his land out, and Heemeyer didn’t want to as he’d owned and run his welding business there for years. In retaliation for his stubbornness, the Mayor started putting other businesses on the road to Heemeyer’s business to choke him out. He took the Mayor to court over it, but the Mayor basically owned most of the town and businesses at this point and the case was thrown out. Heemeyer then built the Killdozer, and if you watch the video, he only goes after certain buildings. He was only demolishing the ones that belonged to the Mayor.