A California man armed with a pistol, knife, zip ties and other weapons was arrested near Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland early Wednesday morning after making threats against the Supreme Court justice.
Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, Calif., was charged with attempted murder later Wednesday, according to a criminal complaint. Roske was allegedly dressed in black when he arrived by taxi just after 1 a.m. outside Kavanaugh’s home in a Washington suburb, according to the complaint.
“At approximately 1:50 a.m. today, a man was arrested near Justice Kavanaugh’s residence,” Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe said Wednesday.
“The man was armed and made threats against Justice Kavanaugh,” McCabe added. “He was transported to Montgomery County Police 2nd District.”
News of the arrest was first reported by The Washington Post.
Roske had a Glock 17 pistol, ammunition, a knife, zip ties, pepper spray, duct tape and other items that he told police he would use to break into Kavanaugh’s house and kill him, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in Maryland. Roske said he purchased the gun to kill Kavanaugh and that he also would kill himself, the affidavit said.
Roske told police he was upset by a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion case. He also said he was upset over the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and believed Kavanaugh would vote to loosen gun control laws, the affidavit said.
When he got out of the taxi, Roske was spotted by two U.S. Marshals who are part of round-the-clock security provided to the justices following the leak of the draft opinion last month. But Roske was only apprehended after he called 911 in Montgomery County, Maryland, and said he was having suicidal thoughts and planned to kill Kavanaugh, having found the justice’s address online. Roske was still on the phone when Montgomery County police arrived on the scene, according to the affidavit.
“This kind of behavior is obviously behavior we will not tolerate,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters Wednesday. “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 to hold people who do them accountable.”
Kavanaugh's Maryland home was the site of protests last month in the wake of the leaked draft opinion. The Senate unanimously passed a bill to expand police protections to Supreme Court justices' families following the protests.
Senate lawmakers on Wednesday called on their House counterparts to take up the bill in the aftermath of the arrest.
"The arrest of this individual proves these threats to the Justices’ lives are horrifyingly real," Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement, adding: “Speaker Pelosi must keep the House in session until they pass my bill. Every day they don’t the threat to the Justices grows, the potential for tragedy becomes more likely."
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, the bill's other co-author, also urged the House to pass the bill quickly, telling CNN on Wednesday that they are working on a bill that also includes Supreme Court staff and clerks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also called for action on Wednesday, saying on the Senate floor that "this is exactly why the Senate passed legislation very shortly after the leak to enhance the police protection for justices and their families," blaming House Democrats for the delay in enacting the measure.
"If these reports are correct, an assassination attempt against a sitting justice, or something close to it," McConnell warned. "This is exactly the kind of event that many feared that terrible breach of the court’s rules and norms could fuel."
A bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday warned of an elevated risk of extremist violence in the coming months, mentioning the Supreme Court's looming decision on abortion rights.
"Given a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case about abortion rights, individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies," the bulletin reads.