N.J. federal judge Esther Salas speaks out after son shot dead at family home

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas

This undated file photo provided by the Rutgers Law School shows U.S. District Judge Esther Salas during a conference at the Rutgers Law School in Newark, N.J. (Rutgers Law School via AP, File)

The New Jersey federal judge whose family was targeted in a deadly July attack by a lawyer who espoused misogynistic beliefs is speaking out.

District Court Judge Esther Salas said in a video released Monday that her family is still reeling from the shooting that left her 20-year-old son Daniel Anderl dead and sent her husband, defense attorney Mark Anderl, 63, to the hospital.

Salas said it is too easy for those who bear a grudge against federal judges to find their personal information online.

“I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain,” Salas said. “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.”

Authorities named self-proclaimed anti-feminist men’s rights attorney Roy Den Hollander as the sole suspect in the shooting. They said Den Hollander showed up at Salas’s North Brunswick home dressed as a FedEx delivery driver and opened fire. 

Salas, who was in another part of the home at the time and was not injured, called Den Hollander “a madman.”

“Daniel being Daniel, protected his father and he took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest,” Salas said in the video. “The monster then turned his attention to my husband and began to shoot at my husband, one shot after another.”

Mark Anderl was shot three times and remains hospitalized after multiple surgeries. He was hit in the right chest, left abdomen and right forearm.

Den Hollander was found dead in New York from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the attack. 

His website contained vitriolic rants against women and occasionally violent imagery. Among his targets were his late mother, his ex-wife, friends from childhood and “feminazi” judges.

Den Hollander was reportedly upset over a case he had pending before Salas, which centered around a woman who sued the federal government because, as a woman, she was ineligible for the draft. Authorities said he may have been targeting others. Federal investigators have also linked Den Hollander to the killing of Marc Angelucci in San Bernardino County, California.

The shooting prompted U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats from New Jersey, to begin drafting legislation that would keep the personal information of federal judges out of the public domain and address other “security issues” facing the federal bench.

“If a federal judge has to worry that his or her decisions at the end of the day could cause the loss of a life of a loved one, then I’m not sure how that full independence — even when one works hard to maintain it — can ever be achieved without worrying in the back of your mind,” Menendez said Monday.

Before the shooting, Salas said she and her son had been in the basement of their home, talking and cleaning up after a weekend party for Daniel’s 20th birthday attended by some of his friends from college.

“Daniel said, ‘Mom, let’s keep talking. I love talking to you, Mom.’ And it was at that exact moment that the doorbell rang,” Salas through tears as she recounted her son’s last words. 

“Daniel looked at me and said, ‘Who is that?’ And before I could say a word, he sprinted upstairs.”

Salas said federal judges and their families should not have to live in fear.

“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 Associated Press contributed reporting.

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