North Dakota man charged with murder in death of teen he called a 'Republican extremist'

Shannon Brandt
Shannon Brandt |

A North Dakota man accused of running over a teen who he described as a member of a “Republican extremist group” has been charged with murder after he was initially freed on bond.

Shannon Brandt faces charges of homicide and "duty in an accident involving death" following the hit-and-run that killed 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson on Sept. 18, according to Fox News.

Brandt, 41, was arrested and then released after he hit Ellingson with his SUV following a local event in the town of McHenry, about 100 miles northeast of Bismarck.

According to newly released court documents, Brandt called 911 immediately after the crash and asked the 911 operator, "I just wanna ask you a question, am I going to prison?"

Brandt told the 911 dispatcher who answered his call that Ellingson was somehow impeding his ability to leave the area. "I just tried to take off ... he wouldn't let me go. I hit him. I didn't mean to and he's subdued. I was scared to death but he's subdued. He can't do anything to me now, so this is why I'm calling you. I almost ... just runaway, but I thought jeez obviously if it was a total accident I wouldn't be scared, but I know it was more than that."

Prosecutors say Brandt initially fled the scene after plowing over Ellingson and told 911 that he believed at the time that the teenager was trying to get a group of other people together to come “get him.” 

According to a probable cause affidavit, Ellingson was in fact calling his mother for help before Brandt hit Ellingson with his SUV.

Ellingson was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died a short time later.

Brandt posted a $50,000 bond and was released from jail on Sept. 20. 

Cayler Ellingson
Cayler Ellingson, 18. |

Following an announcement from Foster County state prosecutors about the new charges, Brandt surrendered to police Friday at the Stutsman County Correction Center, according to Fox News.

Prosecutor Kara Brinster also announced that the previous charge of criminal vehicular homicide against Brandt was dismissed because of the new murder charge.

An affidavit from Foster County indicated that an autopsy revealed there were no skid marks or acceleration marks where Ellington was found, and that “the nature and manner” of his injures indicated Ellington was “on the ground when he received those injuries” and “were caused by being ran over.”

The affidavit also stated Brandt made comments during that 911 call about the incident “being intentional and not an accident.”

North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt.Bryan Niewind, meanwhile, said investigators have found “no evidence” to support Brandt’s claim that Ellingson was a Republican extremist.

Brandt is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 11.

Funeral services were held Monday for Ellingson at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Carrington, North Dakota.

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