Locals recall bulldozer rampage after ‘TREAD’ premieres in Grand
On June 4, 2004, Ann Heckman was cleaning out Granby Elementary School for summer break when an announcement came over the loudspeaker. It told her and the other teachers in the building to evacuate because of a bulldozer tearing through the town.
Heckman and other longtime locals recalled the infamous day of Marvin Heemeyer’s rampage through Granby after seeing a new documentary about the incident Friday at The Foundry Cinema & Bowl.
“TREAD,” a documentary film directed by Paul Solet, saw a soldout audience for the 7:30 p.m. showing. For Heckman, who has lived near Granby for 37 years, the film told a part of the story she hadn’t considered before.
“I thought it was wonderful,” she said of the documentary. “It was very interesting and provocative. It opened up a lot of questions that I never really had even though we lived here.”
Heckman attended that showing and the following Q&A with Patrick Brower. Brower’s book, “KILLDOZER: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage,” was used as source material for the film. He was also a consulting producer.
After the movie, audience members asked Brower about the incident. Questions about how long the rampage lasted (about 2.5 hours), how much damage it cause (up to $10 million) and details about the backstory leading up to the incident.
Brower tried to clear up rumors, many spun from the infamous “manifesto” recorded by Heemeyer and internet conspiracy theorists, that have been contradicted by the interviews and reporting in Brower’s book.
“Marv is the classic unreliable narrator,” Brower said. “If you just listen to his tapes and accept everything he says as the truth, then of course it makes great sense what he did… He says a lot of things in there that are 15% true and then the rest is just exaggeration or flat out wrong.”
One audience member asked Brower why he decided to write a book and consult on this film. He pointed to these misconceptions that have spun into a false narrative about the rampage.
“(It was) all the extremely false online commentary about the event that blossomed,” Brower said. “Marv did a very good job of creating a very compelling myth about his role. I think that’s why it resonates with so many people.”
Another question Brower received asked about signs of mental illness leading up to the rampage. While he never got any psychiatric opinions on the record, Brower said two of the psychologists he spoke with recommended the book, “The Narcissist Next Door.”
Heckman said she didn’t know much about the incidents leading up to the bulldozer rampage but she thought that mental illness could have played a role.
“This is just a small town, yet people are hurting all over,” Heckman said. “Here we are 16 years later and we’re still uncovering this horrible blight that was going on in our community that we didn’t even know about.”
Many of the questions Brower was asked had no answer, like whether Heemeyer was mentally ill, what his “endgame” could have been or how the rampage might have been prevented. From Brower’s answers, it was clear he wanted to dispel the rumors that see the man as an “American hero.”
“I knew right away I was on the wrong side of this story,” Brower said. “People want to think the government is bad. If they can find a story that they can make to look like ‘it’s OK to get back at government,’ then they’ll just buy into any old thing.”
For community members like Heckman, who were a part of the community before and after the tragic incident, the rampage and the documentary are a reminder of the unseen in Granby.
“We always saw the positive side,” Heckman said. “This is a very sad side for everybody and for the community.”
“TREAD” will be at The Foundry for the next week with showings 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily, plus matinees at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brower will be onsite after all three showings Saturday for a Q&A and book signing. For more, http://www.foundry-wp.com/movies/.
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