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Killer Freed After Confessing to Mowing Down Teen Over ‘Political Argument’

A suspected killer in North Dakota accused of mowing down an 18-year-old over the teen’s alleged conservative views was quickly released from jail. Townhall was the first to report that 41-year-old Shannon Joseph Brandt, of Glenfield, was freed from a local detention facility just two days after he confessed to hitting Cayler Ellingson, 18, with his car in an apparent politically motivated attack that resulted in the victim’s death.

Jail inmate records show that Brandt was let out sometime on Tuesday and the Stutsman County Correctional Center administrator confirmed to Townhall that the defendant posted a $50,000 bond yesterday.

Foster County Sheriff Justin Johnson also verified that Brandt is back on the streets pending his next court appearance.

Since his swift release, Brandt began scrubbing his locked-down social media activity. Then the suspect’s Facebook account was deactivated Wednesday after public comments swarmed his page.

According to the Fargo-based InForum, which broke the news of the Brandt case, the fatal hit-and-run happened early Sunday morning in the rural city of McHenry, where a community “street dance” was wrapping up.

A probable cause affidavit Townhall obtained via public records request says that Ellingson’s body was found on a dirt path near the intersection of Johnston Street and Jones Avenue. Before the gruesome discovery, a drunk Brandt called 911 and admitted to a dispatcher that he struck Ellingson with his 2003 Ford Explorer, alleging that the pedestrian was “threatening” him and “calling some people to come get him,” according to a call made to State Radio emergency services that were logged at approximately 2:55 a.m. that day.

Testimony from a North Dakota Highway Patrol peace officer says Brandt claimed over the phone that Ellingson was “part of a Republican extremist group,” although no evidence has surfaced corroborating his allegation.

Court documents tell a different story of a desperate Ellingson reaching out to his mother at the end of his young life and begging her to rescue him. The affidavit shows that moments before the teen’s death, Ellingson called his mother twice, pleading for her to come pick him up and save him from Brandt, who he said was “chasing” him. Ellingson’s mom could not reach her son after the second call. When she arrived at the scene along with a first responder, Ellingson’s parents found their child’s body in an alleyway. While his parents knew Brandt, the teen did not, the family told authorities. The extent of the relationship is not yet known.

A criminal complaint sent to Townhall from the Foster County District Court clerk says that Brandt did not render aid to the dying victim as required by N.D. Cent. Code § 39-08-06 fled the site of the fatal hit-and-run and returned to his residence in a different city—nearby Glenfield—where he was later arrested. Brandt told a patrol sergeant at his home that he struck Ellingson with his SUV “because he had a political argument,” the affidavit says. Brandt acknowledged fleeing the crime scene and not remaining there until police arrived.

According to a search warrant Townhall received, there is reason to believe that on or within the premises of Brandt’s house, there’s “concealed evidence or property” proving that he caused Ellingson’s fatal injuries.

Brandt was taken into custody Sunday for driving under the influence and consented to a chemical breath test, in which the results were above the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08. He has since been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a deadly accident. If convicted of the first Class A felony, Brandt would face a maximum of 20 years in prison. The second offense, a Class B felony, against Brandt carries a penalty of up to 10 years behind bars. In addition to imprisonment, both charges carry a fine of $20,000.

The court docket says Brandt has his next court hearing on the afternoon of Oct. 11. At his first courtroom proceeding Monday via Zoom, Brandt objected to the judge ordering he be held on bond and insisted he’s 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, indicating he doesn’t understand the charges he’s facing.

“We are still trying to determine what, exactly, transpired at the time of crash and prior to that as well,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind told reporters in a video aired by WDAY-TV. Niewind further explained that authorities “do not know of any witnesses” present before the incident and “are still making attempts to interview potential witnesses from the street dance.” Meanwhile, state troopers say that more serious charges could be recommended against Brandt as the investigation develops, InForum reports.

Townhall requested an audio recording of Brandt’s call but a strategic communications chief with the state’s Department of Emergencies Services denied the inquiry after “checking” with the department’s administrator. “Per law enforcement, this is still an active investigation, so I am not allowed to release records at this time,” the representative said, citing a section in the state’s Century Code that exempts disclosing the information.

An office manager at the state’s Department of Transportation highway safety division told Townhall that an online crash report should be available in the digital system within 10 days following the incident.

A lifelong friend of the Ellingson family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the slain teen’s funeral expenses through the grieving process. As of Wednesday afternoon, the online fundraiser received an outpour of support, amassing over $22,000 in donations, which well-exceeds the initial goal that’s half that. Cayler was “the heart” of his family’s life before he “was taken way too soon from them,” the GoFundMe page says. The tragic loss of losing a child is something “no parent should ever have to endure in their life.”

Services will be held for Ellingson, from Grace City, next week on Sept. 26 in Carrington, where he just graduated high school in late May this year. Ellingson’s Facebook account says he just started college in Bismarck last month, studying diagnostic medical sonography to become an ultrasound technician.

The political violence in the Upper Midwest region of America comes weeks after President Joe Biden’s divisive, anti-MAGA speech in the City of Brotherly Love declared war on Republican voters nationwide. With an authoritarian-esque backdrop of blood-red lighting and flanking Marines, the Democratic U.S. president’s rhetoric accused Trump supporters of harboring “anger,” spreading “chaos,” and living in the “shadow of lies.”

  • Gil says:

    This is so sad and even more so that the killer confessed and was allowed back on the streets with a $50,000 bond posted as if that is all this young man’s life is worth. Biden’s hate speech against the opposing political party is anti-American and he should be impeached. Add this young man’s death to the death toll Biden has against him with all he is responsible for in Afghanstan and the continued support of mandated vaccines which people took to keep their jobs and are now dead.

  • Klut says:

    I know what I’d like to see happen to this Brandt guy but the left would only say that it proves Brandt’s point.

  • Sandy ^ says:

    The president Biden gave this man permission in his Soul of the Nation speech. In his speech he said, “But as I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.
    So tonight, I have come this place where it all began to speak as plainly as I can to the nation about the threats we face, about the power we have in our own hands to meet these threats, and about the incredible future that lies in front of us if only we choose it. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic. 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.”

    Is this not a call for some kind of war? (the threat) Did he not lay the basis for making MAGA a terror group in America? This guy just took those words to heart. He did what the Biden suggested a war.

  • Rudog says:

    Vigilante time…. rub out that kommunista jackal!!!

  • Geoff says:

    Every human KNOWS murder is murder!! The outrage lands squarely on this murderous disgusting excuse of a man! Liberals LOVE to lay blame on anything else misdirect like the do with gun violence,

    when people with guns commit murder they point all the outrage falls on the gun it psychologically adds NO pressure for the maggots that do the killing or is going to .as a matter of fact those going to do the killings could even feel they are taking one for the team ..

    like a good drone using violence to cause fear that their hive can capitalize on and push for anti American gun law just like a terrorist network would use except they supposedly do not have people shoot others thats done supposedly all on their own .. not sure how this still isnt using terror to sway law!

    SO, FULL pressure HAS TO be applied to the worthless humans that commit the violent acts take a playbook lesson from the HIVE and just pound with calls and messages until justice REAL justice is served not the Democrat fake justice kind that majority of issues they are on the wrong side of right!

    As far as that scum in office he needs pressure applied constantly and non stop too bad the media is so disgusting and part of the HIVE that they will not do what is right no matter what it is! But if no justice comes ,Biden’s time is coming quickly few years he will probably stroke his way to the Judge of Judges and loopholes will not be there for him!

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