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Man Accused Of Murdering 18 Year Old In Politically-Motivated Attack Gets Released From Jail

McHenry, ND – The suspect who allegedly confessed that he chased down an 18-year-old man with his vehicle and murdered him because of the teen’s conservative political views was released from jail on Tuesday.

Shannon Brandt, 41, was incarcerated at the Stutsman County Jail for less than three days before being released on $50,000 bail, FOX News reported.

He walked out of jail on Tuesday, according to jail records.

Brandt has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death and criminal vehicular homicide for allegedly running down 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson with his vehicle after a community street dance early Sunday morning.

His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case, according to FOX News.

Police said the brutal attack occurred in an alley near Jones Avenue and Johnston Street at approximately 2:35 a.m. on Sept. 18, KFYR reported.

According to court documents, Ellingson called his mother shortly before the crash and asked her if she knew Brandt.

His mother said she was familiar with Brandt and told her son she was coming to pick him up, police said.

Moments later, Ellingson called his mother again and said Brandt was chasing him around the city with his vehicle, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported.

The teen’s mother was unable to reach him again after the second call, according to KFYR.

Police said Brandt ran Ellingson down with his car and hit him in an alley, then left the scene and called 911, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported.

“He was the one who called 911 to report the crash,” North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) Captain Bryan Niewind told the paper.

Brandt allegedly told the 911 dispatcher that Ellingson was a member of a Republican extremist group and that they had gotten into a political argument, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported.

Investigators said Brandt claimed he was afraid the teen was calling people to come harm him, so he crashed his car into him.

Ellingson was rushed to Carrington Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, KFYR reported.

Investigators tracked Brandt down at his home in Glenfield and took him into custody, according to KVRR.

According to police, Brandt admitted that he had been drinking alcohol prior to the collision.

Police said his blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit at the time of his arrest, according to FOX News.

He also allegedly confessed that after hitting Ellingson with his car, he fled the scene, returned to call 911, and fled again before law enforcement officers arrived, KFYR reported.

“Brandt admitted to striking the pedestrian with his car because he had a political argument with the pedestrian and believed the pedestrian was calling people to come get him,” court documents read, according to FOX News. “Brandt admitted to leaving the scene of the incident and returning shortly after where he called 911.”

Investigators said they are still piecing together what occurred.

“We are still trying to determine what, exactly, transpired at the time of crash and prior to that as well,” Capt. Niewind told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

“We do not know of any witnesses,” he added. “We are still making attempts to interview potential witnesses from the street dance, people that were present prior to the crash happening.”

When the judge set his bail at $50,000, Brandt argued and told the court he wasn’t a flight risk.

“I have a job, a life and a house and things I don’t want to see go by the wayside — family that are very important to me,” he told the judge, according to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

Brandt, who already has a prior DUI conviction, faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years if he is convicted of the vehicular homicide offense.

A fundraising page established to help Ellingson’s family in the wake of their loss has raised more than $21,000 so far.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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