A 41-year-old North Dakota man has been charged with felony vehicular homicide after he struck an 18-year-old with his SUV following a political argument before fleeing the scene.
Shannon Brandt did return to the area and called 911. He told officers that he felt threatened by Cayler Ellingson after their argument and said that the teen was “part of a Republican extremist group.” He said he was worried that Ellingson was “calling people to come get him.”
“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,” officials wrote in court documents. “Brandt admitted to leaving the scene of the incident and returning shortly after, where he called 911.”
Officials said there was no evidence that Ellingson was a member of any extremist groups.
“There is no evidence to support the claim Brandt made about Ellingson,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Bryan Niewind told Fox News. “This remains an active investigation, and as evidence is gathered and reviewed, we will consult with the Foster County State’s Attorney to determine if Brandt’s current charges will remain as currently charged or if additional charges will be brought against him.”
Brandt was taken into custody and had a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is above the legal limit in North Dakota. In addition to the vehicular homicide charge, Brandt was also cited for leaving the scene of an accident.
He was released on a $50,000 bond.