North Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Bryan Niewind has dismissed Shannon Brandt’s claim that the 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson who he killed was a Republican extremist.
Brandt struck Ellingson with his SUV following a street dance in McHenry, North Dakota, early Sunday. Ellingson was admitted to a hospital in Carrington, where he was pronounced dead. Later that day, investigators arrested Brandt at his home, after which Brandt admitted to having purposely hit the boy following a political argument.
In the court document, Brandt said that he thought Ellingson was part of a “Republican extremist group” and that he had called for some people to go after Brandt, according to Fox.
“There is no evidence to support the claim Brandt made about Ellingson,” Niewind told the media outlet.
Prior to his death, Ellingson had called his mother and asked whether she knew Brandt, the probable cause affidavit said, CBS News reported. The teenager made another call a short while later, saying “that ‘he’ or ‘they’ were chasing him,” according to the affidavit. She could not reach her son after the call.
Brandt also told investigators that he had been drinking alcohol before hitting Ellingson. A chemical breath test showed Brandt’s blood alcohol content to be above 0.08 percent—above the legal limit for driving.
Brandt was taken to the Stutsman County Jail but was released on Tuesday after posting a bond of $50,000. He is being charged with criminal vehicular homicide and leaving the crash scene involving a death. Brandt had initially left the scene of the crime after hitting Ellingson but later came back, called 9-1-1, and left.
Ellingson’s death has triggered further backlash against President Joe Biden, who had recently painted Republican supporters in an extremely negative light. In a primetime address on Sept. 1, Biden claimed “MAGA Republicans” are threatening the “very foundations of our republic” and that they held an “extreme ideology.”
“There is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country,” the Democrat said in front of an ominous red backdrop and flanked by two Marines.
In a Sept. 21 tweet, Karol Markowicz, a columnist at Fox News, blasted Biden’s speech, stating that his rhetoric has “consequences” and that labeling those who have differing opinions as extremists leads to acts like that committed by Brandt against Ellingson.
“The blood of that 18-year-old North Dakota Republican—killed by a man who called him an ‘extremist’—is on Joe Biden’s hands,” radio show host Todd Starnes said in a tweet.
In a Twitter post, Mia Cathell, a reporter at Townhall, said that Brandt has been “scrubbing” his social media since his release.