ND Man Admits Running Down 'Republican' Teen: Cops

Shannon Brandt, 41, charged with vehicular homicide in death of Cayler Ellingson
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2022 6:14 AM CDT
Cops: ND Man Admitted Killing Teen After Political Dispute
Shannon Brandt   (Foster County Sheriff)

North Dakota's attorney general is calling on political leaders to stop violent rhetoric after authorities say a man admitted to using his SUV to fatally strike a teen with whom he had a "political argument." Shannon Brandt, 41, called 911 early Sunday, saying he'd hit a pedestrian who was "part of a Republican extremist group" following "a political argument" because he "believed the pedestrian was calling people to come get him," a probable cause affidavit reads, per CNN. Brandt—who left the scene near a street party in McHenry, returned to call 911, then left again—was arrested at his Glenfield home and taken to jail, where a breath test registered a 0.08 blood alcohol level, authorities say.

Cayler Ellingson, 18, who was struck around 2:35am, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, per CNN. The teen's mother told investigators that he'd called her asking if the family knew Brandt. She said yes and that she was coming to pick him up, per the New York Post. But Ellingson soon called back saying he was being chased, according to the document. Investigators have found no witnesses to corroborate Brandt's account of an argument, per the AP. "There has been no corroboration that this was even politically motivated at all," North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind tells the outlet.

In a Thursday statement, Attorney General Drew Wrigley condemned Ellingson's death and offered to help prosecute the case, per the AP. The Republican also called on political leaders to stop rhetoric that leads to violence. Brandt, who is charged with felony vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of the accident, said he did not understand the charges against him at a Monday court appearance, per Fox News. He also objected to the $50,000 bond amount, saying he was not a flight risk. "I have a job, a life and a house and things that I don't exactly want to see go by the wayside—family that are very important to me," he added. He posted bond on Tuesday and was released ahead of a court hearing on Oct. 11. (Read more homicide stories.)

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