Police apprehended an armed man nearby Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home early Wednesday morning.
The man, identified as Nicholas John Roske, told the FBI he planned to murder Kavanaugh and then kill himself, according to an affidavit. Police found a knife, handgun, pepper spray, hammer, crowbar, zip ties, and other items on him. He told the FBI he was motivated to kill Kavanaugh by his concern the Court would reduce gun restrictions.
“Roske indicated that he believed the justice that he intended to kill would side with Second Amendment decisions that would loosen gun laws,” the affidavit said.
The assassination attempt comes as the gun debate has become more contentious in recent weeks. The attack at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers, has ratcheted up tensions in the gun debate. The plan to murder a Supreme Court justice over a hotly-debated Second Amendment case may further exacerbate distrust among either side as Congress continues to debate how to respond to recent shootings.
“Threats of violence and actual violence against the justices, of course, strike at the heart of our democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference. “We will do everything we can to prevent them and hold people who do them accountable.”
The affidavit alleges Roske bought a Glock 17 and other weapons for the express purpose of breaking into Kavanaugh’s home and killing him. It says he traveled from California to Maryland after finding Kavanaugh’s address online. After being dropped off outside of Kavanaugh’s home just after one in the morning, he noticed U.S. Marshalls stationed outside and began walking away from the area.
Roske then called the local police and told them he planned to kill Kavanaugh and himself. He was then taken into custody by the police shortly afterward.
He told police he had been “thinking about how to give his life a purpose” and decided killing a Supreme Court justice was the answer. Roske allegedly said he’d been upset by the leaked draft of the Court’s opinion in Dobbs, which overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. He also indicated he was angry about the Uvalde shooting.
Officials have charged Roske with attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice, a federal felony.