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ND man kills teen he assumed was Republican; admits it to cops

Booking photo for Shannon Brandt. (Stutsman County Jail/Released)
September 22, 2022

A North Dakota man has been arrested and charged with murder a teenager with his car in an alley. The man told authorities he believed the teenager was part of a “Republican extremist group.”

41-year-old Shannon Brandt was arrested on Sunday in McHenry, North Dakota for running over and killing a teenager since identified as 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson. Brandt has since been charged felony vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a deadly road incident.

In an affidavit, North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper Christopher Allen said Brandt admitted to striking the victim with his vehicle.

“Brandt admitted to State Radio that he hit the pedestrian and that the pedestrian was part of a Republican extremist group,” the affidavit read.

Brandt told Allen that the pedestrian victim “called some people and Brandt was afraid they were coming to get him.”

“Brandt admitted to striking the pedestrian with his car because he had a political argument with the pedestrian and believes the pedestrian was calling people to come get him,” the affidavit reiterated.

It is not clear exactly who Brandt believed Ellingson had called to get him.

Ellingson’s mother told police that her son called her about at 2:40 a.m. after a street dance event in McHenry, the Associated Press reported. The teenager initially asked his mother if she knew Brandt. Ellingson’s mother told police her son called again a short time later and said “that ‘he’ or ‘they’ were chasing him.”

Ellingson’s parents told police they knew Brandt, but they did not believe their son did.

According to the Affidavit, Brandt also admitted to consuming alcohol prior to the deadly encounter.

Brandt was initially booked for DUI, but has since been charged with vehicular homicide and violating a duty to remain on the scene and render aid to the victim.

KVRR reported Brandt was released on Tuesday after posting $50,000 bond.

The apparently politically motivated killing comes after President Joe Biden gave a politically charged campaign-style presidential address on Sept. 1, calling former President Donald Trump and so-called “MAGA Republicans” a “threat to this country.” During the speech, Biden denounced using “violence as a political tool,” while exclusively referencing examples of politically motivated violence from the political right.