June 4, 2004
Marvin Heemeyer goes on a rampage in a modified bulldozer, damaging 13 buildings before killing himself
Heemeyer was involved in a decade-long feud with city officials. In 1992, Heemeyer had purchased two acres of land for $42,000 to build a muffler shop. He later agreed to sell the land for $250,000, later backing out from the deal and requesting $375,000. He then once again upped his price to $1 million. No agreements could be made regarding the sale of the property.
In 2001, the city’s zoning officials approved the construction of a concrete plant adjacent to Heemeyer’s muffler shop, blocking access to it. Adding to Heemeyer’s frustration, he was fined $2,500 for various infractions, including junk cars on his property and a failure to hook his shop to a septic tank.
Two years before the rampage, Heemeyer purchased a bulldozer to create an alternate route to his muffler shop. The city denied his request. Heemeyer then outfitted the bulldozer with armor plating in preparation for the rampage. In notes Heemeyer left, he mused, “it is interesting to observe that I was never caught. This was a part-time project over a 1 1/2 year time period.” He also wrote “I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable. Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things.”
On June 4, over the course of 2 hours, Heemeyer drove his bulldozer (often referred to as a “killdozer” on social media and in news reports) into 13 buildings involved in some way with Heemeyer’s dispute. The buildings included his former business (he had sold his muffler shop a few months before the rampage), the concrete plant, Town Hall, a newspaper office which ran an editorial against him, and the homes and businesses of those who had opposed him. While driving his tank/bulldozer hybrid, Heemeyer also fired a rifle at power transformers, propane tanks, the owner of the concrete plant who attempted to stop Heemeyer with a piece of heavy machinery, and two state police officers. The shootings were rare, however, as his primary focus was using the bulldozer itself. Eleven of the thirteen buildings had been occupied moments before the attack. Despite the gunfire and buildings’ occupancy, no one was killed during the assault.
Heemeyer’s end came when he demolished a hardware store. The bulldozer’s radiator and engine were already damaged and, because of the store’s basement, one of the treads became stuck. As law enforcement approached the immobilized bulldozer, they heard a single gunshot from Heemeyer’s handgun. Police had to cut their way into the bulldozer with oxyacetylene torches to remove Heemeyer’s body roughly 9 hours after his suicide.
A video of the rampage can be seen here, including the police attempting to shoot at the heavily-armored bulldozer to halt its progress through town.