Armed man who wanted to kill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh told police he was upset over abortion, Uvalde

Key Points
  • A California man armed with a handgun, a knife, pepper spray and burglary tools was arrested near the Maryland home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Nicholas John Roske of Simi Valley told police he was there to kill Kavanaugh, authorities said.
  • Roske said he was upset over the likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional right to abortion, and the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, according to authorities.
  • Kavanaugh's home, like those of other conservative Supreme Court justices, has been targeted by protestors since the leak of a majority draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 27, 2018.
Tom Williams | Pool | Reuters

A California man arrested Wednesday while armed with a handgun and ammunition, a knife, pepper spray and burglary tools told police he traveled to the Maryland home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to kill him, court records revealed.

The man, 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske, after being apprehended a block away from Kavanaugh's residence, also told cops he was upset over the likelihood of the Supreme Court soon overturning the constitutional right to abortion, and the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, those records show.

"Roske stated that he began thinking about how to give his life a purpose and decided that he would kill the Supreme Court Justice [Kavanaugh] after finding the Justice's Montgomery County address on the Internet," FBI Special Agent Ian Montijo wrote in an affidavit.

"Roske further indicated that he had purchased [a] Glock pistol and other items for the purpose of breaking into the Justice's residence and killing the Justice as well as himself," the agent wrote.

Roske, who lives in Simi Valley, is being charged with one count of attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice. He faces a possible maximum prison sentence of 20 years if convicted.

During a brief appearance Wednesday in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, Roske consented to be detained without bail but reserved his right to request a hearing on bail later.

Under questioning from Magistrate Judge Timothy Sullivan, Roske said he was a college graduate, with a bachelor's degree.

When Sullivan asked if he was thinking clearly, and understood the nature of the hearing, Roske answered, "I think I have a reasonable understanding, but I wouldn't say I'm thinking clearly."

He next is due in court on June 22.

Roske arrived in a taxi Wednesday morning at about 1:05 a.m. in front of Kavanaugh's home in Chevy Chase, a suburb of Washington, D.C. He was spotted by two deputy U.S. marshals standing outside Kavanaugh's residence, who noted he was dressed in black clothing and carrying a suitcase and backpack, the affidavit said.

He then walked down the street after seeing the marshals, that affidavit says.

Roske then called 911 and told a dispatcher his name, and that he was having suicidal thoughts and that he also had a gun in his suitcase, the affidavit said.

"He also told the call taker he came from California to kill a specific United States Supreme Court Justice," the FBI agent wrote in his affidavit.

Roske was apprehended, while still on the telephone with the 911 operator, by Montgomery County police sent to the scene. He was taken into custody without incident.

When police searched his suitcase and backpack, they found a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol with two magazines and ammunition, a knife, a tactical chest rig, pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, a screwdriver, nail punch, a crowbar, pistol light and duct tape, according to the affidavit.

Police stand outside the home of U.S. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh as abortion-rights advocates protest on May 11, 2022 in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Roske was taken to a Montgomery County police station after being arrested.

"After being taken to the precinct and advised of his constitutional rights, Roske agreed to speak with the authorities and signed a written waiver to that effect," the affidavit said.

He then told a detective that "he was upset about the leak of a recent Supreme Court draft decision regarding the right to abortion as well as the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas," according to the affidavit.

Roske "indicated that he believed the Justice that he intended to kill would side with Second Amendment decisions that would loosen gun control laws," the affidavit said.

Kavanaugh's home, like those of other conservative Supreme Court justices, was the site of protests last month after the leak of a majority draft opinion that would overturn the constitutional right to abortion. That draft was written by Justice Samuel Alito, another conservative.

The Supreme Court is expected in the next several weeks to issue a final decision on a Mississippi abortion law that was the subject of the draft opinion. 

Wednesday's incident occurred hours before the court released a ruling on a case unrelated to abortion.

Security has been tightened at all nine of the justices' homes since last month, after the unprecedented leak of the draft.

The Department of Justice said in mid-May that the Marshals Service is providing "around-the-clock security" at the homes of all nine justices.

A spokesman for the Marshals Service told CNBC on Wednesday that security measures are still in place at the justices' homes.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters, "This kind of behavior is obviously behavior that we will not tolerate."

"Threats of violence and actual violence against the justices of course strike at the heart of our democracy, and we will do everything we can to prevent them and hold the people who do them accountable for that reason," Garland said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in a statement lauded the response by U.S. marshals and police, saying they acted "quickly to apprehend the suspect and prevent him from causing any harm."

Hogan also said that he and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin "will continue to partner with both federal and local law enforcement officials to help ensure these residential areas" where Supreme Court justices live "are secure."

"I call on leaders in both parties in Washington to strongly condemn these actions in no uncertain terms," Hogan said.

"It is vital to our constitutional system that the justices be able to carry out their duties without fear of violence against them and their families."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning of the "continued heightened threat environment across the United States."

The bulletin said that in the coming months DHS "expects the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets."