Weird History

The Strange Story Of An Unemployed Plumber Who Stole A Tank And Went On A Rampage In California  

Samantha Dillinger

It sounds like a movie, but it really happened: in 1995, a plumber stole an M60A3 Patton tank from the military and went on a rampage in a major metropolitan area. The video below not only covers this incident, it also delves into the story of the man responsible for it.

The perpetrator, Shawn Nelson, was an Army veteran. A series of tragedies slowly broke Nelson down until he remained a shell of his former self. When he finally hit rock bottom, Nelson decided to exact revenge in a highly destructive, highly public manner.

Because of his prior military experience, Nelson was able to commandeer a tank for himself and take it on a path of destruction through the city. San Diego law enforcement was caught off guard, having rarely faced military hardware blasting down the freeway.

Even though Nelson certainly committed a crime, knowing what pushed him to his breaking point makes this story feel like less of a crime and more like a tragedy. Watch the video below to learn what caused the San Diego tank rampage.