GRANBY, Colo. -- A muffler shop owner who plowed through several buildings in Granby with an armored bulldozer was found dead early Saturday morning.
Authorities say a man identified as Marvin Heemeye, 51, apparently shot himself. He was found after officers used a torch to cut through metal plates that encased the dozer. The plates had a 12-inch layer of concrete between them.
The bizarre situation developed in the small mountain town of Granby, Colo., Friday afternoon, when the heavily-armed man with an apparent vendetta knocked down five buildings with his homemade armor-plated bulldozer before losing hydraulic fluid and becoming stuck inside a large warehouse. The man was later identified as Heemeyer, the 51-year-old owner of a muffler shop in town.
The massive, heavily modified D-9 Caterpillar was finally stopped around 4:40 p.m.
Jim Holahan, the emergency manager for Grand County, said that there was never any contact with the driver. A shot was heard coming from inside the bulldozer, 7NEWS reported.
Just before 10 p.m. the bomb squad detonated several explosives, trying to blast the steel contraption apart. The SWAT team couldn't tell if the man inside was dead or alive, or if the bulldozer was rigged with booby traps, 7NEWS reported.
Heemeyer reportedly had a grudge with town officials and was not happy with some of their recent zoning decisions, townspeople told the station.
Heemeyer recently sued the owner of the town's cement plant over the land dispute and lost.
"He and Cody were at odds with one another and he ended up losing that in court, and I think he was just mad," said Casey Farrell, owner of Gamble's General Hardware Store, a business that was destroyed during the rampage.
"He's a person who had a business here in the county and was put out of business so I think he's just got some vengeance with the town and the people who represent the town," Granby resident Alicia Draper said.
Residents believe that it may have taken Heemeyer at least a couple of weeks to plan his alleged attack, since the vehicle was so heavily fortified and nearly impenetrable -- a virtual custom-made tank. The machine had large steel plates welded onto it and had areas for the driver to shoot out of, areas that one witness described as "gun turrets."
"It's an ugly beast. It's pretty sealed up," Draper said.
The one-man destruction derby began around 3:15 p.m. Friday when the bulldozer began barrelling through the library and town hall, which are in one building, and also smashing through the two-story Sky-Hi newspaper office, demolishing it.
"He'd go forward, ram it as hard as he could and then he'd go in reverse, and then do it again," a witness said.
The bulldozer plowed through the Mountain Park cement plant and adjacent Mountain Park Electric, clipped an Xcel Energy service building -- damaging its natural gas lines -- and ran over at least three police cars that had been put in its path to block it, witnesses said.
The driver also hit the town's fire station and the new Liberty Bank building, heavily damaging it.
The bulldozer driver then headed west out of town, pursued by law enforcement vehicles.
"There were SWAT officers that were surrounding the vehicle and they'd open fire and it was steel-plated, so the bullets just bounced off, basically," witness Mathew Lopez said.
The bulldozer driver also fired back at officers with his 50-caliber machine gun, authorities said. At one point, when he had been swarmed by officers, the man fired several shots into a couple of propane tanks but the tanks did not explode.
A short time later, the bulldozer turned around and headed back into town, moving down the side of the Gambles store. The bulldozer became stuck in a rear building behind the hardware store when its hydraulic fuel line was severed by debris. That's when the Grand County Special Response Team moved in.