Supreme Court

Armed Man Arrested for Threat to Kill Justice Kavanaugh Near Maryland Home

Nicholas John Roske, of California, was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Montgomery County, Maryland. He allegedly said he was upset about abortion and the Uvalde massacre

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A man carrying a gun, a knife and zip ties was arrested Wednesday near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home in Montgomery County, Maryland, after threatening to kill the justice, authorities say.

Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, California, was charged with the attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice. During a court hearing, he consented to remain in federal custody for now.

He was dressed in black when he arrived by taxi just after 1 a.m. outside Kavanaugh's home in Chevy Chase.

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. 

He appeared in federal court and was ordered held without bond.

Roske allegedly 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.

An official could be heard saying on a first responder dispatch call obtained by NBC Washington: “Be advised, he’s having suicidal and homicidal thoughts. He came from California to act on them.” 

Officials said there was no indication that any of the weapons were used, and it appears that Roske did not make it onto Kavanaugh’s property, located on a quiet, tree-lined street.

U.S. Marshals stood guard outside Kavanaugh’s home later Wednesday. 

The arrest comes as the nation awaits a Supreme Court ruling on federal abortion rights. Justices have been provided round-the-clock security at their homes amid concerns about violence following the court’s decision. 

When Roske got out of the taxi, he was spotted by two U.S. Marshals. But Roske was only apprehended after he called 911 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.

Roske was taken to a Montgomery County police station.

At his initial appearance in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, Roske paused several times before responding to routine inquiries from U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Sullivan during the 10-minute hearing.

Asked if he understood what was happening and whether he was thinking clearly, Roske paused, then said, “I think I have a reasonable understanding, but I wouldn't say I'm thinking clearly.”

Roske said he is taking medication, but did not say what it is or why he is on it. He also said he is a college graduate.

Andrew Szekely, a federal public defender who is representing Roske, declined to comment on the case after the hearing. 

“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.”

President Joe Biden praised authorities for quickly apprehending the man, deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates said in an email.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan thanked law enforcement for their response and condemned any threats of violence against justices. 

Protesters have previously demonstrated outside the D.C.-area homes of Supreme Court justices, sparking debates over security and whether officials’ homes should be protest sites. Demonstrations also have been held outside the court, where a security fence rings the building and nearby streets have been closed.

A Homeland Security Department report said the draft opinion on abortion, leaked in early May, has unleashed a wave of threats against officials and others and increased the likelihood of extremist violence.

Roske's next court date was tentatively set for June 22. The attempted murder charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

NBC Washington / Associated Press
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