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December 15, 2006 9:49 AM   Subscribe

On May 17, 1995, Shawn Nelson stole a tank and took it for a little drive (Google Video, YouTube).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
In 2002, Nelson's tank rampage was the subject of a documentary called "Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:49 AM on December 15, 2006




That was horrible to watch (again). I'm still amazed nobody else was even hurt -- a minor miracle considering that he came close several times.
posted by dhartung at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2006


Ahhhh home....
posted by beerbajay at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2006


Shawn Nelson, he stole a tank
He thought it was a won'rous prank
But the cops' response was somewhat grim
they had guns and they then shot him.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:12 AM on December 15, 2006


Stacy Keach Voiceover from Whateverthehell Fox show it was:Now, this disturbed fugitive is on the loose with a sixty-ton killing machine.
Heh.
OK, that's over. So there's something special about why this fellow did what he did, or the documentary, or do we just like cranks driving tanks? Or what? I'm missing it.
posted by nj_subgenius at 10:14 AM on December 15, 2006


So there's something special about why this fellow did what he did, or the documentary, or do we just like cranks driving tanks?

I'll admit it, you're right. It was really quite mundane. Just another crank driving his boring little tank thru American suburbia. Yawn.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2006


Sarcasm aside, there's quite a bit of info on his motives and background in the Wikipedia article and some of the other links. As for the story, I figure many people will be unfamiliar with this unique and bizarre event some ten years ago, so it warrants sharing.

I for one only heard about it for the first time yesterday evening on one of those TV shows that recycle ancient American, British etc. police footage.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:22 AM on December 15, 2006


Is this the same video I see every time I turn on World's Most Public Endangering Police Chases at 4 am when I can't sleep before a big trip? I'm at a coffee shop with bad internet, so I can't find out...
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2006


Let's not forget Marvin Heemeyer's home-made tank rampage in 2004.

Because let's face it, if you're going to go on a tank rampage, it's much cooler if you build the tank yourself.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on December 15, 2006


The "Cul-de-Sac" filmmaker, Garrett Scott, links Nelson's story to the larger story of San Diego, whose post WWII middle class prosperity was built largely on the presence of so many defense contractors. He also uses the story to consider the implications of growing up in the paranoia of the nuclear age, which of course may help explain something about all of our little "peculiarities."

Scott also co-directed a great Iraq film, Occupation: Dreamland, and unfortunately, tied tragically earlier this year.
posted by hovercraft at 10:36 AM on December 15, 2006


Did you think to wonder how and why someone gets hold of an M-60 Patton tank and then proceeds to terrorize and shred the place up for 23 minutes? That seems like a major factual miss. Or is it that this 11-year-old news event, and a specious reference to a 2002 documentary is just special because it happened in America? Newsflash: Avis does not have that model. Work on that maybe for next time, and tang up those rejoinders a little too.
posted by nj_subgenius at 10:46 AM on December 15, 2006


That 2004 rampage was also very, very strange.
'Whatcha building?'
'Bear-proof garbage truck.'
'Good luck with that.'
posted by nj_subgenius at 10:47 AM on December 15, 2006


Man, if you're gonna go out, go out with a bang.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:48 AM on December 15, 2006


I figure many people will be unfamiliar with this unique and bizarre event some ten years ago, so it warrants sharing.

Actually, I think most everyone has heard about this. Not only was it a unique event, we've had ten years of cop shows to watch it over and over again. Or maybe I've just seen too many cop shows.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:09 AM on December 15, 2006


Of course I thought about the guy's backstory, nj_subgenius. I just wanted to keep the post short and let the links speak for themselves.

The front page part of the post seems simple and descriptive to me, with enough info for someone to determine if they want to see a crazy tank rampage, and no more info than that.

The links below the fold offer plenty of background to the story, and should be interesting for those more interested than the passing front page scroller.

As far as the "special because in America" bit goes, I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. In fact, I thoroughly fail to understand what, exactly, your beef is.

Also, your link is broken.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:14 AM on December 15, 2006


.

Garrett was more than just a brilliant filmmaker. He was also just a plain decent guy, and a hell of a lot of fun at parties.

I know this link has already been posted above, but it bears a repost, because lots of people miss him [scroll down for a hint]. Lots and lots.

Thanks for remembering him, goodnews. I'm sending this FPP to everyone I know who knew him well. They'll appreciate it, and I imagine that Garrett himself could not have asked for a better memorial.
posted by deejay jaydee at 11:19 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


All I gotta say is that when I finally snap and steal a tank, the one thing that's gonna be different: I'm going to bring a gunner with me.
posted by quin at 11:26 AM on December 15, 2006


The first time I saw the video I was a little dismayed by the aesthetic of the turret facing backwards. I always envision tanks with the turret (and gun barrel) facing forwards. Given that he was an experienced tank driver, might this be a way of protecting the gun barrel?

The part of me that isn't an insurance agent (which would be all of me) thought this was totally awesome, even though poor old Shawn Nelson was killed in the end.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:45 AM on December 15, 2006


It's just kind of weird to FPP a news story that we all saw on TV a couple lustrums ago.
posted by knave at 11:47 AM on December 15, 2006


Apparently during the San Diego tank rampage, a little conversation between various local LEOs probably went a little something like this:

"What do we have that can stop a tank?"
"A tank!?"
"Yeah, a tank."
"Uh, nothing."
"What!? Nothing at all? What about the National Guard?"
"Hang on, let me check... Uh, nope."
"Well, shit. What the hell are we supposed to do now?"
"Hope it runs out of gas?"
posted by loquacious at 11:52 AM on December 15, 2006


Whoa deejay jaydee, I didn't even realize the filmmaker had passed away. Thanks for the additional links.


.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2006


It's just kind of weird to FPP a news story that we all saw on TV a couple lustrums ago.

Oh, snap. :)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2006


The thread provides, sorry for the bad link gnfti
posted by nj_subgenius at 12:03 PM on December 15, 2006


The first time I saw the video I was a little dismayed by the aesthetic of the turret facing backwards. I always envision tanks with the turret (and gun barrel) facing forwards. Given that he was an experienced tank driver, might this be a way of protecting the gun barrel?

This is why quin wants a gunner. Tanks usually require 2 or more people to crew fully. Generally the driver (at least on vintage tanks) doesn't control the turret or gun.

This may not hold true on modern tank with advanced fire control systems.
posted by loquacious at 12:03 PM on December 15, 2006


All I gotta say is that when I finally snap and steal a tank, the one thing that's gonna be different: I'm going to bring a gunner with me.

Whatcha gonna do for the second round, me bucko?

Or will you just be sure to steal a T-72?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:31 PM on December 15, 2006


I didn't even realize the filmmaker had passed away.

Well, hovercraft mentioned his very untimely passing above, but I wanted to make sure that a post that kept Garrett's work (and memory) in our minds would carry documentation sufficient to show that comments such nj_subgenius' below are uninformed, at best:

Or is it that this 11-year-old news event, and a specious reference to a 2002 documentary is just special because it happened in America?

It's neither of those, nj_sub . . . it's just chance and the internets allowing a promising filmmaker to say "hello" from beyond. No one here will make you watch if you don't like it.

And gnfti? Thank you for the FPP. Again. It meant a lot to me, at least.
posted by deejay jaydee at 12:57 PM on December 15, 2006


This was one of the handful of US stories from the 90s of such note that made it over the transom to Japanese TV when I was living there, actually.

Great fpp. Seriously. I think I'll put together a FPP on the OJ chase or the impeachment process. Can't get enough of the 90s.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:52 PM on December 15, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe : Or will you just be sure to steal a T-72?

Oh hell yeah! I figure if I'm on my way to wreck some shit up, might as well do it Commie style.

(And I'd bet in a pinch the driver could stop driving and help the gunner load. But your idea is better.)

I've always had a soft spot for the T-72. It entered production the same year I did.
posted by quin at 5:04 PM on December 15, 2006


Makes me wonder how well a LAW, AT4, or Carl Gustav would work against our own tanks.
posted by mrbill at 5:57 PM on December 15, 2006


The "military installation" mentioned in the video was a National Guard armory. (This is why the tank's treads weren't tearing up the street; they were rubberized.)

I was living across the street from the armory with this happened. It was actually pretty hilarious up to the point the guy was shot.
posted by SPrintF at 6:53 PM on December 15, 2006


I don't know, mrbill, maybe we should send one over so you can test your svenska weaps.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:55 PM on December 15, 2006


subgenius: all three weapons I listed have been or are currently used by the US armed forces.

Hence why I asked - I suppose in a "worst case" scenario if someone stole a tank, an anti-tank weapon could be against it.
posted by mrbill at 1:41 PM on December 16, 2006


The first time I saw the video I was a little dismayed by the aesthetic of the turret facing backwards. I always envision tanks with the turret (and gun barrel) facing forwards. Given that he was an experienced tank driver, might this be a way of protecting the gun barrel?

That's how tanks are normally driven, when there's no one controlling the turret. Otherwise, bad things can happen. The M60 even has a mounting ring on the back to hold the gun in place. Tanks are typically parked that way in the track park.

This is why quin wants a gunner. Tanks usually require 2 or more people to crew fully. Generally the driver (at least on vintage tanks) doesn't control the turret or gun.

This may not hold true on modern tank with advanced fire control systems.


No, still true.

(And I'd bet in a pinch the driver could stop driving and help the gunner load. But your idea is better.)

The gun turret generally has to be facing to the rear to let the driver move from his compartment to the turret.

And anyway, there wouldn't be rounds in a tank at a NG track park. They'd be somewhere else, locked up. The tank itself would typically have a padlock on the loader's hatch, but once you cut that you don't need an ignition key to start it up - there's just a big red starter button.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:15 PM on December 16, 2006


I suppose in a "worst case" scenario if someone stole a tank, an anti-tank weapon could be against it.

I think you could use any of those to break the track, which would immobilize the tank. In the case of a stolen tank, that would be all you need to do, really. Beyond that, I suspect that most of those weapons would be effective against an M60, less so against an M1.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:21 PM on December 16, 2006


In New Jersey they use this footage for a strip club.
posted by PreteFunkEra at 4:46 PM on December 16, 2006


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