Police detained an armed man from California early Wednesday morning near the suburban Maryland home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying he threatened to kill Kavanaugh and had a handgun, a knife, and burglary tools.
The FBI has taken over investigation of the case and the man was to appear in the afternoon before a federal magistrate, charged with trying to murder a Supreme Court justice, Montgomery County police and federal prosecutors said.
The Supreme Court confirmed the incident in a written statement that said Montgomery County police initially arrested the man and took him to the Second District station in Bethesda, Maryland.
“At approximately 1:50 a.m. today, a man was arrested near Justice Kavanaugh’s residence,” the statement reads. “The man was armed and made threats against Justice Kavanaugh.”
Kavanaugh is one of at least five Supreme Court justices believed to support a leaked draft of a majority opinion in a major abortion case that would overturn the court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion on demand.
The Kavanaugh residence and those of other conservative Supreme Court justices have been the targets of pro-abortion protesters in the weeks since the leak. Kavanaugh’s house has been the scene of at least two of those protests, on May 7 and May 11.
According to the Montgomery County Police Department, officers responded to a call at 1:42 a.m. near Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
“An adult male from California was taken into custody by Montgomery County Police and transported to a Montgomery County police station,” the department said in a written statement. “The case was transferred to the FBI.”
The Washington Post cited anonymous sources who said the arrested man is in his “mid-20s” and was found carrying “at least one weapon and burglary tools.”
NBC News, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, reported that the man, identified as Nicholas John Roske, 26, from Simi Valley, California, was armed with a handgun, a knife, pepper spray, and burglary tools.
A federal district court in Maryland confirmed Roske’s identification.
Roske called 911 on himself and police stopped him a block away from the justice’s house, NBC reported, adding: “And when police detained him, he said he was there to kill Kavanaugh, these officials say.”
Citing an FBI affidavit, CBS reported:
Police found in his belongings a black tactical chest rig and tactical knife, a Glock 17 pistol with two magazines and ammunition, pepper spray, zip ties, a hammer, screwdriver, nail punch, crow bar, pistol light, duct tape, hiking boots with padding on the outside of the soles, and other items.
Roske did not make it onto Kavanaugh’s property, the Post and other outlets reported. It was not clear whether Kavanaugh and his family were home at the time.
The Daily Signal sought comment from the FBI, but had not received a response by publication time.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron said that Roske had been charged with attempting to murder a Supreme Court justice and was scheduled to appear Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Sullivan.
Barron said in a press release that the FBI affidavit states that at about 1:05 a.m., two deputy U.S. marshals had seen someone dressed in black get out of a taxi, carrying a backpack and a suitcase, in front of the residence of a Supreme Court justice. The person looked at the two marshals, who stood next to their parked vehicle, and then turned to walk down the street, according to the affidavit.
Soon after, in a 911 call to Montgomery County’s Emergency Communications Center, a man believed to be Roske said he was having suicidal thoughts and had a firearm in his suitcase, according to the affidavit. Roske told investigators, who seized the backpack and suitcase, that he traveled from California to Maryland to kill a specific Supreme Court justice.
Barron, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, said in the press release that Roske told investigators he was upset over the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and the leaked draft of the high court’s opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Heritage Foundation scholar John Malcolm told The Daily Signal that the threat against Kavanaugh “is shocking and horrifying,” but “not surprising.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
Malcolm, vice president of Heritage’s Institute for Constitutional Government and director of its Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, said:
When protesters are allowed to loudly protest outside the homes of Supreme Court Justices—a clear violation of federal law—and no action is taken; when the Senate Majority Leader [Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.] stands on the steps of the Supreme Court and, after calling out Justices [Neil] Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, irresponsibly says, ‘You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,’ we should not be surprised that a deranged individual exacerbates the situation by resorting to violence.
This individual should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and our public officials should not engage in inflammatory rhetoric that undermines respect for the rule of law.
If convicted, Roske faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for attempted murder of a federal judge, according to Barron’s press release.
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report, which was updated with new details shortly after publication.
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