Grieving Loss of Son, Salas Says Federal Judges Need Privacy Safeguards

This still from video shows U.S. District Judge Esther Salas speaking out on Monday, Aug. 3, after her son was killed and husband injured by a gunman who targeted her New Jersey home. (Courthouse News image)

(CN) — U.S. District Judge Esther Salas called for better privacy protections for judges in an emotional statement Monday, nearly two weeks after her husband was shot and her son killed in their New Jersey home. 

“In my case, the monster knew where I lived and what church we attended and had a complete dossier on me and my family. At the moment, there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable,” Salas 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.” 

The nine-minute video statement comes after a man dressed as a FedEx driver rang her doorbell on July 19, opened fire inside the North Brunswick home and fled. Salas, who was in the basement, was not harmed, but her defense attorney husband was shot three times and their 20-year-old son Daniel Anderl was killed. Mark Anderl is still recovering in the hospital. 

Authorities recovered the body of the suspected shooter, Roy Den Hollander, the following morning, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot would outside a vehicle parked in Liberty, New York. A so-called “men’s rights” attorney, Den Hollander had previously written a book where he called Salas “lazy and incompetent.” Den Hollander is also the lead suspect in the death of a California men’s rights attorney, Marc Angelucci, who was found dead in his San Bernardino home the week prior. 

In her emotional video, Salas describes the last moments she shared with her son as they cleaned up from his 20th birthday party held at their home the day before the shooting. 

“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.’,” said Salas, an Obama appointee. “It was at that exact moment that the doorbell rang, and Daniel looked at me and said, ‘Who is that?’” 

Salas recalled Daniel running up the stairs to answer the door, which quickly was followed by the sound of gunfire.  

“Daniel being Daniel protected his father, and he took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest,” Salas said, fighting back tears. 

Salas said she hopes to open a dialogue about how to keep personal information about judges from being easily accessible to anyone on the internet. 

“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. 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.” 

Salas went on to say that it “comes with the territory” to have people angry with judges over their decisions, but it is not acceptable that judges have to live in fear for their lives. 

“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,” Salas said.

Salas thanked first responders, hospital workers, law enforcement and those sending prayers.

“The outpouring of love has been overwhelming,” she said. “And I can tell you it has lifted us during our darkest hours.”

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