Ten years after Heemeyer’s day of terror, wounds remain in Granby
GRANBY, Colo. – It was 10 years ago this June that Marv Heemeyer exacted revenge on town officials, the local newspaper, and anybody else who just happened to cross the path of his home-made armament of war.
Heemeyer was aggrieved by a rezoning of land across the road from his muffler shop that permitted a batch plant. He clandestinely fortified a Komatsu bulldozer with 20 tons of armor and mounted rifles. Then, on the sunshine-splashed morning of June 4, he spun his contraption out of his muffler shop to spread terror.
First, he rammed the home of the mayor and the town hall and library. Then, he set out more randomly to avenge the wrongs he had perceived. In the case of the local newspaper, the Sky Hi News, the editor who had always run his letters of complaint ran out the back door as Heemeyer’s bulldozer crashed through the front.
Nobody died, except Heemeyer, who put a gun to his own head after his lumbering bulldozer fell into the basement of the Gambles store. Others could easily have died, though.
The Gambles store has been rebuilt, but it took seven years for Casey Farrell, the owner, to do so. “My world just turned upside down,” he told the Sky-Hi on the 10th anniversary. “But I thought ‘Well OK, we’ve got insurance.’ We did. Just not enough.”
Gambles had been a hardware store with five employees. Now it’s an appliance and mattress store with two employees.
But beyond the physical changes, there’s a mental change in the minds of Farrell – and others.
“It’s not that I don’t feel safe, but it’s changed the way that you look at people, at stuff,” he said. “I don’t know how to put it into words, really.”
Glen Trainor was the undersheriff for Grand County. During the bulldozer rampage, he jumped atop the bulldozer and attempted to breach the hatch. Now the police chief of the nearby towns of Winter Park and Fraser, he believes local emergency-preparedness has improved. “We’re not always going to be this sleepy place where nothing bad ever happens.”
Patrick Brower was one of two newspaper editors who ran out the back door as the Komatsu’s blades crumpled the front. Brower has written a book about the case, and he’s tried to come to terms with how this one case fits into patterns across the country.
“I’ve seen that the way people have venerated Marv and praised him after the fact – without even really knowing what happened or the facts of the situation – has been repeated in many other rampages and tragedies in America since then,” he says.
“How many people lose petty zoning fights with government in America? Everybody, all the time. That’s not an excuse to go out and tear the town to pieces and shoot at people.”