Shannon Brandt was charged with criminal vehicular homicide and driving while under the influence-involving death/injury after striking Cayler Ellingson, the teenager, in McHenry on Sept. 18, Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

A man who has admitted to running his vehicle into a teenager who he claimed was an extremist Republican was released on bond in North Dakota last week, even though the teen died.

Shannon Brandt posted $50,000 bond on Sept. 20, according to Foster County jail records and a bond receipt.

Brandt was charged with criminal vehicular homicide and driving while under the influence-involving death/injury after striking Cayler Ellingson, the teenager, in McHenry on Sept. 18, according to court records.

Brandt admitted “that he hit the pedestrian and that the pedestrian was part of a Republican extremist group,” according to a probable cause declaration penned by a North Dakota state trooper.


Brandt called 9-1-1 after initially leaving the scene of the crime.

At Brandt’s home, he admitted to a trooper that he drank alcohol prior to the incident. Results from a chemical breath test returned above the legal limit.

“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,” according to the declaration.

Christopher Allen, a state trooper, told the North Dakota District Court that a 2003 Ford Explorer at Brandt’s residence has damage at the front end.

Ellingson was pronounced dead at the Carrington Hospital.

Brandt was charged with a Class A felony and a Class B felony. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

North Dakota Judge James Hovey decided to grant $50,000 bail to Brandt. The defendant was not pleased, claiming he was not 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,” Brandt told the judge, WDAZ-TV reported.

Foster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster declined to comment beyond a Wednesday press release in which she said that the case is still being investigated and that Hovey set the bail.

Hovey also ordered Brandt to wear an ankle monitor, not to leave the state, and not to make contact with Ellingson’s family.

The next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 11.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley has indicated he is not involved in the case.

Nicole Geiszler, who said she is a family friend of the Ellingsons, launched a fundraiser for them following the death of their son.

Geiszler called Ellingson a “young man with his whole adult life ahead of himself.”

“So much stripped away from himself and from his family. They now have to endure a path no parent wants, no parent should have to endure,” she wrote on GoFundMe. “His innocent life he had yet to look forward to and live for. His parents will never see their young son graduate college, get married or have grandchildren. It’s all come down to thee (sic) worst nightmare or call any of us parents want or should ever have to go through.”

According to the declaration, Ellingson’s mother met with state troopers and said she was going to pick up her son from McHenry when he called her and said that “‘he’ or ‘they’ were chasing him.”

After that, she could not reach her son.


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