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Man Accused of Running Down, Killing Conservative Teen With Vehicle Charged With Murder

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A North Dakota man who was accused last month of mowing down and killing a conservative teenager following a political dispute has learned his fate.

The driver, Shannon Brandt, will be charged with murdering 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson after running him over with his vehicle on Sept. 18.

Initially, Brandt was charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide involving a motor vehicle and duty in accident involving death, but Foster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster has replaced that with the more serious felony charge of murder, the Daily Caller reported.

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Initially, Fox News reported that Brandt considered Ellingson a “Republican extremist” and cited that as his motivation for running him over. Brandt was allegedly drunk at the time of the incident:

Brandt reportedly called 911 to report the crash, authorities said. Authorities said he was allegedly drunk at the time. 

Court documents said he told a 911 dispatcher the teen was part of a Republican “extremist group” and was calling people to go after him following an unspecified political argument. 

The young man’s mother said that her son called her prior to being hit and asked her if she knew Brandt. She did, but the teen is not believed to have known him.

“He was the one who called 911 to report the crash,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind said, The Grand Forks Herald reported.

“Court papers show Brandt called 911 around 2:30 a.m. Sunday and told the 911 dispatcher that he just hit Ellingson, claiming the teen was part of a Republican extremist group and was calling people to come get Brandt after a political argument,” the report said.

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“We are still trying to determine what, exactly, transpired at the time of crash and prior to that as well,” the captain said.

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

Brandt was initially held on just a $50,000 bond to which he objected, saying 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,” he said to the judge.

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The charge of vehicular homicide with a prior DUI on his record carried a minimum of a decade in prison, with a maximum of two decades. But authorities said then that as the investigation developed, he could face more serious charges, and indeed he has.

The incident came just a few weeks after President Joe Biden insisted that “MAGA Republicans” were a threat to the nation.

“We must be honest with each other and with ourselves,” Biden said during the speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, with a pair of U.S. Marines in the background. “Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution,” he claimed without context or explanation. “They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election.”

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“And they’re working right now, as I speak in state after state, to give the power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election-deniers to undermine democracy itself,” Biden continued.

“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country,” the president said.

An earlier affidavit said that Brandt claimed Ellingson was “part of a Republican extremist group” and had called people Brandt was scared “were coming to get him.”

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