Killdozer armed with AR-15-style rifle
Now that the semi-automatic rifle used in the Parkland shootings is back in the news, it’s interesting to note that Marv Heemeyer had an AR-15 type of rifle in the KILLDOZER.
A Ruger Mini 14 was recovered from the KILLDOZER after the rampage. The gun was mounted in the right embrasure of the homemade armored cabin Heemeyer had built on the cab of the bulldozer-tank.
It’s not known exactly how many rounds Heemeyer fired from that weapon during the rampage. However, when police examined the KILLDOZER after the rampage they found that the Mini 14 had been damaged at some point during the rampage, probably early on.
Its barrel was bent to the point where it couldn’t fire. Law enforcement knew it couldn’t fire because Sheriff Rod Johnson reported that police found a spent round in the barrel of the gun after the dozer was examined. The round fired had been stopped by the bent barrel.
So it’s a sure thing that Heemeyer fired the gun once.
Others speculate that he fired the gun several times, including in the direction of the front end loader that Cody Docheff had used to battle against the KILLDOZER when it attacked his business, Mountain Park Concrete. Several rounds pierced the bucket of the front end loader and they could have been fired by the 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle Heemeyer had on the tank or from the Ruger Mini 14. It’s unclear based on witness interviews of that part of the rampage.
Semi-automatic rifle damaged
It’s generally believed that the barrel was bent either by Docheff as he attacked the KILLDOZER with his loader or by falling concrete when Heemeyer was knocking over the walls at the batch plant.
In the Ruger Mini 14 Heemeyer had what could have been his most effective weapon.
It was positioned on the right side of the tank where Heemeyer could easily use it. Because it projected out the side of the tank with no other obstructions nearby, the Ruger Mini 14 had the widest and clearest line of fire of any of the weapons on the tank. It would have been easy for Heemeyer to maneuver the smallish rifle’s muzzle up and down or to the right and left.
This was not true with the .308-caliber rifle he had on the tank, pointing out the front. It was also not true with the 50-caliber rifle had had mounted in the back of the cab. Both of those guns had limited fields of fire due to armor that Heemeyer had built onto the dozer and it was more difficult for him to see where he was shooting with those guns because of the armor.
But the Ruger Mini 14 could have done lots of damage had it not been damaged.
Like the AR-15
Gun enthusiasts like to point out that the Ruger Mini 14 is essentially like the AR-15 assault rifle. It’s semi-automatic, which means a round fires at each depression of the trigger without the need to manually load a round into the chamber in between. This is how the semi-automatic version of the AR-15 also works. And that is how the AR-15s used in several mass shootings worked.
As well, it fires a similar bullet, the .223 or 5.56 NATO round. The Ruger is branded as a “ranch” rifle. Colt brands the AR 15 as a semiautomatic rifle that is the “civilian” version of the M-16 rifle, which is used by the U.S. military and can be fired in automatic mode. The AR-15 can’t be fired in automatic unless equipped with a bump stock.
Marv Heemeyer had something like the assault-style weapon used by many of America’s mass shooters. Luckily, it was disabled early during his rampage.