Man killed teen he believed was a Republican “extremist”

Three weeks after President Biden made a much-publicized speech condemning “MAGA” Republicans and labeling them a “threat to this country,” a man ran down and killed a teen in McHenry ND that he believed was a Republican “extremist.”

On Sunday September 18, 41-year-old Shannon Brandt intentionally ran down 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson in an alley after a town street dance.  Brandt called 911 to report the intentional act and indicated he did it because Ellingson was an “extremist.”   The North Dakota Highway Patrol arrested Brandt and is completing the investigation.

On Tuesday Brandt was charged in Foster County District Court with Criminal Vehicular Homicide and Leaving the Scene of a Deadly Crash. 

The Judge ordered Brandt released on a $50,000 bond pending trial.  North Dakota Court Rule 46 states:

  • (1) In General. At the initial appearance before a magistrate of a person charged with an offense, the magistrate must order the person released pending trial on the person’s personal recognizance or on execution of an unsecured appearance bond in an amount specified by the magistrate, unless the magistrate determines, in the exercise of the magistrate’s discretion, that unconditional release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required.

Given the circumstances of this murder, it is troubling that the bond was not set higher when determining Brandt’s bond amount.  Rule 46.3 (g) mandates the Judge to consider the danger the defendant poses to the community in determining the conditions of release.  It states:

  • In determining conditions of release that will reasonably assure appearance of a person, the magistrate, on the basis of available information, must consider: (G) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community posed by the person’s release.

Brandt’s mindset and actions as he intentionally killed an 18-year-old he disagreed with politically, display a wanton disregard for the welfare of others, and represent a threat to the community.

In light of this case, North Dakota courts would be justified in revisiting Rule 46 to include a more robust application of a public safety element into the Bail/Bond evaluation process.