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Man admits fatally striking 18-year-old with vehicle after ‘political argument,’ police say

<i>Stutsman County Correctional Center</i><br/>North Dakota resident
Stutsman County Correctional Cen
Stutsman County Correctional Center
North Dakota resident

By Andy Rose and Rebekah Riess, CNN

A man in North Dakota was charged with felony vehicular homicide after he fatally struck a teenager with his SUV following what he said was a “political argument,” authorities said.

Shannon Brandt, 41, told troopers he felt threatened and “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 a probable cause document filed in court.

The incident around 2:35 a.m. Sunday in the city of McHenry killed 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Brandt — who was also charged with leaving the scene of the fatal accident — left the area after the collision, then returned and called 911 before leaving again, according to the court documents and the highway patrol.

Brandt told a 911 dispatcher the victim was “part of a Republican extremist group,” according to court documents. Authorities did not provide further details of Brandt’s claims nor the specifics of the alleged argument.

Brandt was later arrested at his home. A breath test taken at the Stutsman County Jail registered 0.08, above the legal limit for alcohol, the probable cause document said.

Ellingson’s mother told investigators the teen called her shortly before the incident to ask if the family knew Brandt. She said her son called back a short time later to tell her he was being chased, according to the probable cause document. The mother couldn’t reach her son after that.

After he was struck by the vehicle, Ellingson was taken to a hospital in Carrington, where he was pronounced dead.

Highway patrol officials said the incident happened in the vicinity of a “street dance.” It is not clear if either Brandt or Ellingson was participating in the event.

Brandt was released from custody Tuesday on a $50,000 bond, according to Stutsman County jail records. He has not yet entered a plea and is next due in court October 11. Court records did not list an attorney for Brandt Wednesday, and he did not return phone and email messages from CNN seeking comment.

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CNN’s Rachel Webb contributed to this report.

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