WASHINGTON — A California man who traveled to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home early Wednesday morning with a gun told a dispatcher he’d recently been hospitalized and needed psychiatric help, according to 911 calls released Thursday.
In two calls beginning at 1:38 a.m. Wednesday, Nicholas John Roske said he had been having thoughts about hurting himself and the judge.
“I’ve been having them for a long time,” Roske said. “I came from California over here to act on them.”
In the calls, obtained Thursday by WUSA9, Roske sounds clearly distressed and, at times, can’t tell the dispatcher exactly where he is. He said he traveled to Chevy Chase after identifying Kavanaugh’s home from photos on the Internet. He also told the dispatcher he had a firearm with him, but that it was unloaded and in a locked case.
“It’s in a suitcase. It’s in a black suitcase,” Roske said. “I’m standing near it but it’s zip-tied shut, from, I just came from the airport.”
Roske said he also had pepper spray, a knife and “various tools” in the suitcase. In court documents filed Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors said those tools included a crowbar, nail punch, hammer and duct tape.
Roske was charged Wednesday with attempting to murder a U.S. judge – a federal felony that carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
In court documents, prosecutors said Roske waived his rights and agreed to speak with police. During a police interview, Roske allegedly said he was upset about the leak of the draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case pending before the Supreme Court, which could drastically reduce constitutional protections for abortion. Roske also allegedly said he was concerned that Kavanaugh would vote to loosen gun control laws and referenced the mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead.
“ROSKE stated that he began thinking about how to give his life a purpose and decided that he would kill the Supreme Court Justice after finding the Justice’s Montgomery County address on the Internet,” prosecutors said.
Roske allegedly also told police he had purchased the Glock pistol and other items to use to break into Kavanaugh’s home to kill the justice and himself.
In the 911 calls, Roske didn’t mention his motivations for traveling to Maryland other than it was where Kavanaugh lived. But, when the dispatcher asked what he intended to do, he did say he intended to kill the judge.
“Were you trying to hurt yourself as well, like, in this process?” the dispatcher asked.
“Yes, I was going to kill myself,” Roske said.
“Why did you want to do that? You were thinking about hurting yourself and someone else?” the dispatcher asked.
“Because I didn’t think I could get away with it and I’ve been hospitalized for a long time,” Roske said.
Roske made his initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Maryland on Wednesday and was appointed a public defender. U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Sullivan ordered him held without bond pending a detention hearing. No date for that hearing has been set.
Supreme Court justices have received enhanced protection over the past month since the leak of the draft Dobbs opinion. Pro-choice protesters have demonstrated outside the homes of Kavanaugh and other Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who also lives in Montgomery County, and Justice Samuel Alito, who lives in Northern Virginia. No one connected to those protests has been arrested or accused of making threats of violence.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have called on Democrats to support passage of a bill that already passed the U.S. Senate that would increase protection for Supreme Court justices and their families. House Democrats have proposed additional language that would extend those protections to other SCOTUS employees, but Senate Republicans have not agreed.