NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Federal Judge Esther Salas has spoken for the first time publicly about a shooting at her township home last month in which authorities say a disgruntled lawyer killed her son and seriously wounded her husband.
In a video statement issued Monday, Salas called for more privacy for federal judges in the wake of the July 19 attack at her home.
She noted that serving as judge involves “making tough calls” that sometimes leave people angry and upset. But she said judges should not have to “live in fear for our lives” because personal information, such as home addresses, can be easily obtained by anyone seeking to do them or their families harm.
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She said the shooter knew where she lived, which church her family attended and had a complete dossier on their family.
“At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable,” the judge said. “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.”
“My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure. And I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain,” she continued. “We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.”
Around 5 p.m. July 19, Daniel Anderl, 20, and his father, prominent defense attorney Mark Anderl, both went to the door of their Point of Woods Drive home in the Hidden Lake section of North Brunswick where the gunman, posing as a delivery person, opened fire, killing Daniel, the couple’s only child.
Roy Den Hollander, 72, a self-proclaimed anti-feminist attorney who grew up in Bergen County, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Rockland, New York, on July 20, the day after the ambush. Authorities believe he also shot and killed a fellow attorney in California in the days before the attack at Salas’ home.
In addition, Den Hollander had a list of other potential targets, including another federal judge in New Jersey, as well as two New Jersey judges and two doctors, according to The New York Times. The list was reportedly found inside Den Hollander’s vehicle.
“I later learned that this monster, who had a FedEx package in his hand, opened fire, but Daniel being Daniel, protected his father and he took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest,” the judge said. “The monster then turned his attention to my husband and began to shoot at my husband, one shot after another. Mark was shot three times: one bullet entered his right chest, the other his left abdomen, and the last one in the right forearm.
Salas, who was in the basement of the home, was not physically injured.
“While my husband is still in the hospital recovering from multiple surgeries, we are living every parent’s worst nightmare – making preparations to bury our only child, Daniel,” she said.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced for Daniel Anderl, a 2018 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Metuchen and a rising junior at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He had plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become a lawyer.
Salas said the shooting came at the end of a weekend in which the family had been celebrating Daniel’s 20th birthday.
“Daniel always wanted to spend his birthdays with his dad and me, so he asked we host a party for a few of his Catholic University of America friends. Because of the pandemic, his father, Mark, and I had some concerns; however, we thought we could adhere to safety guidelines and we agreed to allow his friends to come spend the weekend. The weekend was a glorious one. It was filled with love, laughter and smiles,” she said.
The morning of July 19, the parents went to church and allowed their son to rest. By the afternoon the family began cleaning up from the party, the judge said.
“Daniel and I went downstairs to the basement and we were chatting, as we always do. And Daniel said ‘Mom, let’s keep talking, I love talking to you, Mom,’” Salas said. “It was at that exact moment that the doorbell rang, and Daniel looked at me and said, ‘Who is that?’
“And before I could say a word, he sprinted upstairs,” she continued. “Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!’”
She said now, more than ever, there needs to be a way to keep the lives of federal judges private.
“I know this is a complicated issue, and I don’t pretend to know or have all answers, but together we can find a way. Let’s commence a national dialogue, let’s work collaboratively to find a solution that will safeguard the privacy of federal judges,” she said.
“Let me be clear and tell you firsthand – this is a matter of life and death. And we can’t just sit back and wait for another tragedy to strike,” said Salas, who expressed her thanks to first responders, the medical staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick who have treated her and her husband, as well as those who have offered prayers for their family.
This article originally appeared on Bridgewater Courier News: Esther Salas wants privacy for federal judges, decries son’s killing