Community members in North Dakota are reeling over the death of 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson, and say that he was an “exceptional child” with a bright future ahead of him.
Shannon Brandt, 41, admitted to mowing down Ellingson in the early morning hours on Sept. 18 in a 911 call made after the incident, according to an affidavit. The two were at a local bar’s street dance in McHenry, North Dakota, before the incident happened, and Brandt alleged that he got into a “political argument” with Ellingson, who he alleged was part of a “Republican extremist group.” North Dakota officials have said that neither of Brandt’s allegations are true.
Ellingson was taken to a local hospital with severe injuries, but he later died. Brandt also alleged that Ellingson was threatening him, according to the affidavit.
The 18-year-old called his mother before Brandt used an SUV to hit him, according to an affidavit, and told her that “‘he” or ‘they’ were chasing him.” The mother told her son that she was “on her way to get him” prior to that call.
A person who was close with Ellingson and his family, who chose to remain anonymous when speaking with Fox News Digital, says that the 18-year-old was an “exceptional child” with a bright future ahead of him that was tragically cut short.
Ellingson graduated from Carrington High School in the spring of 2022 and recently began studying to be an ultrasound technician. The high school held a moment of silence for Ellingson on Friday night during its homecoming football game.
One person who was close with the Ellingson family said that the 18-year-old was “absolutely not” a Republican “extremist,” as Brandt alleged, and said he was an “all-around great kid.”
Another person also said Ellingson was a “good kid” and said that the incident has shaken the community.
“It’s that’s all anybody can talk about right now,” the person said of the incident. “I still can’t wrap my head around it. I really can’t.”
A prayer service for Elllingson is taking place on Sunday night, and his funeral is set to take place on Monday.
Brandt was taken to jail and charged with criminal vehicular homicide, as well as leaving the scene of a crash involving a death after the incident. He was released on Tuesday after posting bond, which was set at $50,000.
During a court hearing on Monday, Brandt told a judge that he wasn’t a flight risk and disagreed with the bail amount.
“I have a job, a life and a house and things that I don’t exactly want to see go by the wayside — family that are very important to me,” Brandt said.