Killdozer Nation

I’ve got a pile of objects that I’ve kept around with the idea that I’d write about them someday. Ironically, this stash includes a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In the interest of whittling down that pile we’ll begin with a review of a book, Killdozer: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage that I found in one of the Little Free Libraries I visit on my morning dog walk.

On June 4th, 2004 the author, Patrick Brower, witnessed this bizarre and largely forgotten incident in which Marv Heemeyer, a skilled welder and muffler shop owner, demolished the town of Grandby Colorado with a DIY tank.

Dubbed the “Killdozer,” Heemeyer’s tank, built on top of a Komatsu D355A bulldozer, included armor plating, external cameras, and a 50 caliber rifle. Heemeyer piloted the Killdozer around Grandby destroying the offices of Brower’s newspaper, the Sky-Hi News, and many other businesses and government buildings. Miraculously, no one was killed or injured except for Heemeyer.

Brower describes, in detail, the petty grievances that led up to the incident and dismantles the hero worship of Heemeyer that began immediately after his death. Heemeyer occupies a very familiar class of people: aggrieved and violent middle aged 50-something men who are relatively prosperous independent businessmen. Coming out of a culture of toxic individualism you can easily link Heemeyer with people like Ammon Bundy and the clownish January 6th rioters. Look closely at any of these men and what you will find is a basic inability to share toys in the sandbox. Unfortunately this toxic individualism can manifest in acts of what has come to be called “stochastic violence,” self-radicalized terrorism.

There was some real bravery in Grandby on that day in 2004, from the cop who jumped up on top of Heemeyer’s moving tank, to the heavy equipment operator who attempted to disable the Killdozer with a commandeered road scraper. If not for these delaying tactics many lives might have been lost.

Sadly, I think we’ll see more of these types of incidents such as the recent attacks on the power grid as well as the mass shootings we take for granted in the United States. Brower’s detailed description of what led up to the incident as well as its aftermath can point to ways to end this cycle of violence. Undoing the myth of individualism that’s so much a part of this country is a start. That, and providing the unflattering context for these acts of violence in order to prevent these idiots from being elevated as martyrs or heroes.

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  1. I watched the Netflix documentary on this, and I remember it all started with a mandatory sewage line and easement. Crazy.

    • Yeah–he bought his muffler shop property without first checking about utility hookup. The town wanted him to pay for the long sewer run and he refused. This started a chain of other grievances and lawsuits.

  2. Holy Smokes. How have I never heard of this incident?!?!? These types of folks are so far from “martyrs for freedom” that it is shameful the way they’re held up as an example by their supporting circle of….well, to borrow your label, idiots. Sounds like an interesting read. I requested it from the library. You going to tackle Marie Kondo next? 😉 I’m curious what else is in this pile of stuff to write about. I bet it is quite an assortment of interesting things!

    (I take an internet sabbatical for two weeks each December so I missed this post when you initially published it.)

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