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GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - An incident similar to what happened last week in a small Colorado mountain town occurred here more than 20 years ago when a drunken man drove a bulldozer over a 20-square block area.

John D. Thompson climbed aboard the 47-ton Caterpillar bulldozer at about 3 a.m. on May 1, 1981, and crushed cars, fences, power poles and other property before smashing into two apartment buildings over a period of an hour. No one was hurt.

Thompson later pleaded guilty to destruction of property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and was sentenced to between three and 10 years in prison.

Thompson blamed alcohol for his actions.

"The only thing I remember out of the whole night (was) something that seemed like tear gas, something that sounded like gunshots," Thompson said after his sentencing.

A police officer had fired four shots into the bulldozer's engine, causing it to smoke heavily.

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Thompson managed to escape capture initially. He was arrested at about 5:30 a.m. after he awoke and approached an officer about the damage.

"I figured a tornado had come through," Thompson said.

Last Friday, a man angry over a dispute with city officials plowed his armored bulldozer into more than a dozen buildings in Granby, Colo. The man shot himself after the bulldozer ground to a halt in the wreckage of a warehouse.

AP-WS-06-08-04 1240EDT

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