Monday night, at the upscale Mall at Short Hills in Milburn, New Jersey, 30-year-old Dustin Friedland was shot dead while returning with his wife to their car, after Christmas shopping. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Friedland Was Shot After Opening the Car Door for His Wife
shot in front of his wife, the body of Dustin Friedland lies in the Short Hills Mall parking garage. pic.twitter.com/YjtJWVNZE4
— DanRiehl (@DanRiehl) December 16, 2013
According to Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, Dustin Friedland and his wife Jamie were returning to their 2012 Range Rover at around 9 p.m. Sunday night, December 15. Dustin had opened the door for his wife, and was settling into the driver’s seat when he was shot.
Jamie Schare Friedland’s uncle, Mark Schare told The Daily Mail he believes Dustin would have willingly handed over the keys, and therefore was shot in cold blood, rather than in the course of a struggle:
“I know him and he wouldn’t resist. It’s not his nature. I know he wouldn’t put up a fight.”
Police say the two assailants fled in the stolen vehicle. The police located the stolen car this morning, in a garage on Renner Avenue in Newark. The unidentified suspects remain at large.
2. Friedland & His Wife Were Newlywed Lawyers
Dustin and Jamie both graduated from Syracuse university’s law program, and were married in 2011. Jamie’s boss, Adam Bailey Leitman described the couple as “madly in love” to the New York Daily News: “She would just lighten up when he would walk in the room. She was so happy to be married.”
Friedland was a patent attorney, joining the intellectual property law firm Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholz & Mentlik in 2009. Friedland then became a project manager at Epic Mechanical, a firm devoted to analyzing “construction-related legal claims.” According to the Daily Mail’s interview with Jaime’s uncle, Epic Mechanical is a business owned by Dustin’s father, which Dustin “selflessly” chose to partner with, even though the work was not in the area of law on which he was expert.
3. The Mall at Short Hills Is One of the Most Upscale in the Country
Amplifying the shock of Friedland’s murder is the ritziness of the shopping center where it took place. The Mall at Short Hills is “anchored by Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue”, and counts a Tiffany and Co, Giorgio Armani, Prada, and even a Tesla electric car dealership among its high-end boutiques
The mall offers valet parking at a rate of $10 per vehicle.
Wendy Klein, a server at an Au Bon Pain within the mall, told NJ.com that she was unaware of the incident until she left the mall at the end of the night. This despite the fact that authorities put the mall on lockdown for 30 minutes after the shooting, which occurred on the third floor of the parking garage, near the Nordstroms.
An unidentified food service worker told CBS New York, the patrons in his restaurant heard the gunshots:
“The table in the back stood up really fast. They started panicking. I peeked my head out of this door right here, and I heard a lady screaming on the top of her lungs, screaming some name.”
4. Friedland Was an Athlete & Eagle Scout
According to the Tom’s River Dispatch, Friedland was an avid swimmer and rower while at Tom’s River North High School.
Nick Malfitano, a former classmate of Friedland, told the Dispatch Friedland was a “good man and a great classmate of mine at Toms River North, who made life better for everyone around him.”
The Asbury Park Press archives show Friedland was named Eagle Scout for Troop 29 in Tim’s River, and in 2002, Friedland posed as George Washington for an America’s Day celebration at Pine Beach Elementary School.
5. This is the Second Outbreak of Violence at a New Jersey Mall in the Past Two Months
The murder comes only a month after a 20 year-old Teaneck man, wearing a motorcycle helmet and black clothes wrapped in ammunition, fired six shots into the ceiling of the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, before shooting himself.
While violent crime hasn’t historically been a significant problem at New Jersey malls, the New Jersey Star Ledger notes a number of carjacking incidents over the past few years:
• In September 2009, a Hillside man allegedly forced his way into the car of a 56-year-old woman, pulling out a knife and demanding money.
• In February 2006, two women were carjacked at gunpoint outside of Joe’s American Bar & Grill, a mall restaurant.
• In October 2002, a 76-year-old woman had her car stolen from a parking lot near Saks Fifth Avenue.