Brower: When an armored bulldozer rumbled into my office
November 29, 2017
(Originally published June 10, 2004 in the Sky-Hi News)
I knew we were in trouble when I saw the aspen tree in front of the Sky-Hi News office slam into the front window of our building.
Up until that moment it seemed unreal that the huge ironclad behemoth rumbling down Granby's main street had targeted me and the newspaper.
Marv Heemeyer sat at the control of the massive armored and armed bulldozer, a menacing and dark ironclad behemoth. For a second or so, probably less, Harry Williamson and I stood mesmerized, I'm sure, by what we were witnessing. The aspen tree whipped gracefully, almost, into the window.
The machine was relentless and the front wall of our building cracked and tumbled with a sickening thud. The entire wall — drywall, windows, trim and bricks — shattered and fell like a sheet of shattered glass. It was that fast. The bulldozer roared forward toward us, unfazed, passing through as if the wall was made of tissue paper.
We turned and ran to the back door of the building. I felt fear for the first time at that moment as I ran through the building. The clanking monster followed.
I thought out loud to Harry that whoever was driving that machine must have a gripe with the paper. Earlier, I had guessed to Sergeant Jim Campbell, as he used our phones only minutes earlier, that it was Marv Heemeyer.
Breathless, we ran out the back door and looked toward the front of the building. The bulldozer was plowing down the east side of our building, right over my office, walls falling as it worked its way back toward us. Shots fired by sheriff's officers sounded tinny and small, insignificant in the face of this attack.
Only then did I realize what a fool I was. I knew for sure it was Marv Heemeyer. I knew that he had a grudge against me. I knew that he knew where I lived.
My family was in grave danger. My wife and son were sleeping soundly in the house, not too far from the destroyed office. 'My house is next,' I thought. 'He will kill my family.'
At that point my fear became something closer to panic. We ran down the sagebrush hillside behind our office to the railroad tracks. We were being ordered to get to the other side of the train parked there. I gave my camera to Harry and I ran along the railroad tracks toward my house as fast as my legs would carry me.
As I ran I chastised myself for being such a fool. When the evacuation order had come I told the staff and I watched as people left the office, quickly. Harry and I, however, stuck around. This was, after all, an apparently big news story.
At that time we didn't know much at all about what was happening, only that somebody in an armored bulldozer was smashing buildings and shooting at people. This was big news in a small town like Granby and I vowed to try and get some photos. Harry, I'm sure, had similar thoughts.
Sheriff's deputies were now in front of the building, crouching in firing positions. State patrol cars whizzed by. Far off, the behemoth rumbled in our direction. I could see it. I took some lame photos. As it approached I could feel the ground shake. It was time to get back in the building for safety's sake, or so we thought. In there, we waited for it to pass. Little did we know.
I felt like such a fool to have risked the life of my family all for the sake of a photo; all for the sake of some "big news."
I ran as fast as I could. By Legacy Building Specialists in Rod Lock's business park, Justin Highfil picked me up and gave me a ride home on County Road 60. He drove fast, thank God.
I had phoned home and left a message on the machine that instructed my wife to stay put and not to go anywhere. I didn't want her driving into town wondering what was up, only to be facing an armed bulldozer. I was sure she had missed the evacuation call.
She was home, thank God. We put Sebastian in his seat, I got the dog and we drove east, out County Road 60. I was sure my house was on his list. I worried he would smash it to bits.
But my family was safe. My pregnant wife, agitated by the adrenaline of the situation, had a strong cramp and we worried out loud to each other that this was no time to have a baby. Two-and-a-half-year-old Sebastian sat in the back seat, quiet. He knew something was up.
And all I could think was how happy I was to be safe with my family, making new life and feeling love while in Granby Marv was embarked on a mission to sow death and destruction, wallowing in hatred and anger.
Marv Heemeyer didn't sow death, thank God.
And despite the destruction, Granby thrives on living to tell the story of how Heemeyer tried to crush Granby and failed.
(Patrick Brower is the former editor and publisher of Sky-Hi News.)