Town Faces Expensive Cleanup After Bulldozer Rampage

Heavy machinery rumbled through the streets of Granby (search) again on Monday, this time to clean up the damage left by a man in an armored bulldozer who damaged or destroyed more than a dozen buildings after losing two fights with city officials.

It is a daunting task: Residents and state officials fear rebuilding the mountain town of 2,200 people will cost millions of dollars. Mayor Edward "Ted" Wang said 13 buildings were damaged and at least six, including the town hall, are expected to be total losses.

Townspeople worked with shovels on Monday while front-end loaders filled dump trucks with rubble.

"We're getting help from every direction," Grand County emergency management director Jim Holahan said.

Marvin Heemeyer (search), 52, had battled with town officials over zoning rules and town code violations at his muffler business. Neighbors and acquaintances said he was furious but hadn't talked about his battle with the town for awhile.

Investigators believe Heemeyer spent months building a steel and concrete box around the driver's cage of the bulldozer and targeting buildings that had some association with the disputes.

He shot himself in the head shortly after the machine ground to a halt Friday in the wreckage of a warehouse, said Grand County (search) Coroner Dave Schoenfeld.

A service was planned in a park near the wrecked town hall. A counseling center will remain open until Tuesday.

Michael Beasley, executive director of Gov. Bill Owens Department of Local Affairs, said state money would be available to rebuild town hall, repair roads scarred by the 25-ton behemoth and make other public works repairs not covered by insurance.

Healing and rebuilding were already under way.

Joan Parsons was planting flowers in front of her motel on Agate Avenue Friday when police ordered her to evacuate. Heemeyer knocked down two trees just feet from her plantings, but on Monday the flowers were taking root.

"As long as nobody was hurt and it's all over, we're OK," she said.

Sheriff's deputies planned to interview several of Heemeyer's acquaintances and friends to determine how and when he armored the bulldozer, Undersheriff Glen Trainor said.

Investigators believe he did the work himself, using a crane he had built or modified.

"We're obviously going to keep our eyes open, but we have no info to indicate that he did this with anybody else," Trainor said.

The bulldozer's hydraulic lines and radiator were covered with steel plating, TV cameras connected to three monitors showed Heemeyer where he was going.

The machine came to a halt after its radiator began leaking and it apparently dropped through a floor in a warehouse.

Police had fired hundreds of rounds of bullets at the bulldozer and tried three times to blast through it, but nothing could penetrate the armor. Eventually they were able to remove an air conditioner and get inside through the opening.

It took a crane to remove Heemeyer's body.

Investigators discovered .50 caliber rifle, two military-style assault rifles and a handgun inside.

The bulldozer, sitting near busy U.S. 40, caused a traffic jam over the weekend when passersby stopped to examine it. Officials covered it with a tarp to discourage spectators.