Members of the Carrington, North Dakota, and surrounding communities are preparing to attend the funeral of Cayler Ellingson, who was just 18 years old when he died after a man in an SUV barreled into him.
Shannon Brandt, 41, admitted in a 911 call to hitting Ellingson with his SUV in the early morning hours of Sept. 18 following a street dance at a local bar in McHenry, North Dakota. Brandt alleged that Ellingson was part of a “Republican extremist group,” adding that he had a “political argument” with Ellingson, according to an affidavit. Brandt also claimed that Ellingson was calling other people to come “get him.”
Ellingson was seriously injured and was taken to a local hospital, but later died.
A funeral for Ellingson is being held on Monday at 1 p.m. in Carrington, North Dakota.
North Dakota Highway Patrol Captain Bryan Niewind told Fox News Digital on Sunday that there’s “no evidence” that Ellingson was a “Republican extremist” or that the incident involved politics.
“We have uncovered no evidence to support Mr. Brandt’s claim on the 911 call he made that Cayler Ellingson is a Republican extremist, nor that this incident involved politics,” Niewind said. “This is a terrible tragedy for the Ellingson family. We continue to investigate what led up to the incident, the crash itself and the claim made by Brandt. But, at this time there has been no evidence to corroborate Brandt’s statement.”
The Ellingson family hosted a prayer service in honor of Cayler on Sunday night, and wrote in his obituary that the teenager was a “kind, smart, and big-hearted person.”
Over 100 people were seen entering the prayer service on Sunday.
Community members who wished to remain anonymous when speaking to Fox News Digital said the incident has shaken the entire area, and had only positive things to say about Ellingson.
A person who was close with Ellingson and his family said that the 18-year-old was an “exceptional child” with a bright future ahead of him.
Ellingson graduated from Carrington High School in May 2022 and recently had begun studying to be an ultrasound technician at Bismarck State College for Diagnostic Sonography.
“It’s that’s all anybody can talk about right now,” one person said of the incident. “I still can’t wrap my head around it. I really can’t.”
The 18-year-old called his mother before Brandt admitted to using an SUV to hit him, according to an affidavit, and told her that “‘he’ or ‘they’ were chasing him.” The mother told her son she was “on her way to get him” prior to that call, the affidavit stated.
Brandt was released from jail on Tuesday on a $50,000 bond after being charged with criminal vehicular homicide, as well as leaving the scene of a crash involving a death after the incident.
He told a judge he disagreed with the bail amount, stating that he is not a flight risk and has a life that he needs to get back to.
“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.