“There’s probably a Marv Heemeyer or two in every small community in America,” said Patrick Brower, journalist and author of “Killdozer: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage.”
In June 2004, because of perceived personal attacks from local institutions, Heemeyer drove a bulldozer fortified with concrete, steel and three rifles through the town of Granby, destroying half the town and causing $10 million in damage.
Why did he do it? That’s what Brower explores in his book “Killdozer,” an attempt at capturing the events that led up to and followed Heemeyer’s rampage through the town he once covered.
The events are depicted in an upcoming documentary called “TREAD,” scheduled to debut at the South by Southwest festival in March. Brower, who knew Heemeyer personally and lived through the rampage, was an associate producer on the project.
Brower, in his book, said he’s trying to dispel a false narrative around Heemeyer that has spread since he took his own life during the rampage. Heemeyer has been cast as an American anti-hero, someone who took on the system – the government, media and businesses – for its oppression.
But this narrative, that Heemeyer was justified in getting back for the wrong that had been done to him, is “bogus,” Brower said. The book is meant to be corrective and in no way an attempt to glorify Heemeyer’s actions. Heemeyer’s infamy is much bigger than a book about him, Brower said.
“People wanted to make him a hero, and this is all bunk, so I’m going to write what really happened,” Brower said.
The story reflects much of the current disdain of society for government, media and established society, Brower said. Heemeyer, like some people today, use the perceived wrongdoing of establishments to justify ways of getting back at institutions, Brower said.
“He (Heemeyer) invented this narrative playing on this pre-existing bias, and with God’s justification, that’s what convinced him to build a tank out of a bulldozer and destroy the town,” Brower said.
So what could have been done? What can we as a society do to avoid the total erosion of trust in institutions? Communicate, Brower suggests.
“Every effort should be made to be inclusive and communicate with these oddballs, it’s the communication and expression of what they’re thinking, I think that some how could have helped,” Brower said. “I do think that’s a critical thing to think about.”