Simi Valley man indicted on attempted murder of a justice after arrest near Kavanaugh’s home

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh smiling for a portrait
Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, whom a California man has been indicted by a grand jury on federal charges of attempting to murder.
(Erin Schaff / New York Times)

A federal grand jury has indicted a California man who was found with a gun, knife and pepper spray near the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh after telling police he was planning to kill the justice, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Nicholas John Roske, 26, of Simi Valley, was charged in a single-count indictment with attempting to murder a justice of the United States.

Prosecutors say Roske traveled from California to the justice’s home in Chevy Chase, Md., with the intent of killing Kavanaugh. Roske pulled up near the home in a taxi shortly after 1 a.m. on June 8 carrying a suitcase with a gun and ammunition; a tactical chest rig with pepper spray and a knife; plus a flashlight, a laser, a night-vision monocular and other burglary tools, according to court papers.


Federal officials have reported that Roske said he purchased the gun to kill Kavanaugh and also planned to kill himself. He was arrested by police in Montgomery County, Md., after he called 911 and told a police dispatcher he was near Kavanaugh’s home and wanted to take his own life.

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Roske told police he was upset by a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is about to overrule Roe vs. Wade, the landmark abortion rights ruling. He also said he was upset over the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and believed Kavanaugh would vote to loosen gun control laws, according to prosecutors.

When he got out of the taxi, Roske was spotted by two U.S. marshals who were part of round-the-clock security provided to the justices after the leak of the draft opinion last month. But Roske was only apprehended after he called 911 and said he was having suicidal thoughts and planned to kill Kavanaugh, whose address he had found online. Roske was still on the phone when Montgomery County police arrived on the scene.

Andrew Szekely, a federal public defender who is representing Roske, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the indictment. He also declined to comment on the case after Roske’s first court appearance, the day of his arrest.

The indictment comes one day after the U.S. House gave final approval to legislation that would allow around-the-clock security protection for families of Supreme Court justices.

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The Senate passed the bill unanimously last month, but it had languished in the House as Democrats sought to broaden it to include protection for families of court employees. Republicans ramped up pressure to pass the bill after Roske’s arrest at Kavanaugh’s house.