The suspect is believed to be Roy Den Hollander, a men’s rights attorney who had appeared before Judge Salas on a case challenging the military’s male-only draft, according to Daily Beast. You can read more about Den Hollander here.
Daniel Anderl, 20, the judge’s son, who was a student at Catholic University, is dead, the news site reported. Her husband, Mark Anderl, is in critical but stable condition; the judge was not injured because she was in the basement at the time of the shooting, NBC New York reported.
According to CNN, the suspect has died of a possible self-inflicted wound. “The suspect was a white man who wore a face covering and a FedEx uniform,” ABC News reported, citing law enforcement sources.
The suspect, who was found dead near Liberty, New York by a municipal employee “was an attorney who had a case before Judge Salas in 2015,” ABC News reported, adding that authorities found a FedEx package addressed to Salas in the car. According to NBC New York, the suspect was “an attorney who filed various sorts of civil lawsuits over the years.”
“Dan was a remarkable person because of his endless zest for life,” John Kish, who knew Daniel Anderl, told Heavy. “He’s the one person among my friends that seemed to have more energy, courage, and curiosity than the entire group put together. His great sense of humor and sometimes goofy personality made him a lovable guy to everybody.”
Kish added: “He studied Pre-law philosophy at CUA, and was passionate about the role of justice in society. He was quite hardworking and intelligent, and dreamed of living up to the examples that his parents had set.”
FBI Newark wrote on Twitter that they were investigating a shooting at Salas’ home in North Brunswick Township, New Jersey, on July 19. They said they were looking for one subject and seeking relevant information from the public at 1-973-792-3000.
News 4 New York reported that the gunman showed up at the judge’s home around 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 19. It’s not clear whether the gunman was posing as a FedEx driver or actually was one. “We are aware of the media reports and are fully cooperating with investigating authorities,” a FedEx spokesman told CNN.
“Judge Salas and her family are in our thoughts at this time as they cope with this senseless act,” Governor Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter.
News 4 New York reported that the judge’s husband answered the door and was shot “multiple times.” Her son went to see what was going on and was also shot, that report said. However, there are conflicting reports about who opened the door first, father or son. ABC News reported that “the judge’s son opened the door to the family’s North Brunswick home and was immediately shot,” quoting North Brunswick Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack as saying that Daniel Anderl was “shot through the heart.” He was a Catholic University freshman.
CNN reported that Daniel Anderl opened the door with his father “right behind” and they were met with a “hail of gunfire.”
According to News 4 New York, the judge is the first Latina woman to serve on New Jersey’s federal bench. Rutgers University called her “the first Hispanic to serve as a US Magistrate Judge for NJ.”
The motive and suspect are not yet clear. The suspect is at large. New Jersey Globe reported that the judge had been the target of threats but didn’t specify the nature of the threats. However, ABC News quoted the mayor of North Brunswick as saying, “As a judge, she had threats from time to time, but everyone is saying that recently there had not been any.” My Central New Jersey reported that a neighbor provided video to authorities, that the block was crawling with agents after the shootings and that the hospital was locked down.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Salas’s Husband Is a Prominent Criminal Defense Attorney & Former Prosecutor
The judge’s husband is Mark Anderl, 63, a criminal defense attorney. Anderl is a lawyer with the New Jersey law firm of Anderl & Oakley, P.C.
According to New Jersey Monthly, Salas met her husband when he was working as a prosecutor and she was working as a law school intern. He spotted her “getting fingerprinted” and came over to talk to her, she told the publication, adding, “We’ve been inseparable since 1992.”
His website biography says that Anderl practices in the areas of “State and Federal Criminal Defense Juvenile Delinquency DWI/Municipal Court.” He received his education from Brooklyn Law School and Northeastern University and was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1985.
“Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Criminal Trial Attorney, 1997 to present Over 250 Criminal Jury Trials Anderl & Oakley, P.C., partner, 1997 to present,” his website says. Before that, he worked as an assistant prosecutor for 10 years in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
He has received numerous awards, including Middlesex County Bar Association Practitioner of the Year and New York top-rated lawyers.
2. Salas Is a Former Public Defender Nominated to the Federal Bench by Barack Obama & Was Recently Given a Case With a Link to Jeffrey Epstein
According to The New Jersey Globe, Salas is “a widely respected and popular jurist” who was nominated by former President Barack Obama to be a federal judge in 2010 after serving as a public defender and federal magistrate.
You can read the judge’s lengthy biographical questionnaire from her nomination hearing here.
The judge was recently assigned a case with a Jeffrey Epstein link.
According to Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank AG is being accused of misleading investors “about anti-money-laundering deficiencies,” including not properly monitoring high-risk customers, among them the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting sex-offense charges. Epstein’s ties to high-profile figures like Prince Andrew and the manner in which he died have caused some to question whether his death was murder instead of suicide. Authorities have given no indication that the motive for the Anderl shootings is tied into any of the judge’s cases, however.
The case was filed “on July 15, 2020, and has been assigned to Judge Esther Salas,” according to Globe Newswire. Bloomberg Law also reported that the case was assigned to Salas.
See the docket entry here.
She is also known for the case involving Teresa and Joe Giudice of reality television fame. She sentenced Joe Giudice to prison and “staggered” the couple’s sentences, according to The AP. Another major case handled by Salas involved members of the Grape Street Crips, accused of running a drug trafficking network.
When she submitted her nomination questionnaire for federal judge, Salas was asked for the most significant cases she had handled.
She listed a wide variety of cases. She cited a 2008 case of a man who died in an altercation with off-duty police officers and whose family sued. She mentioned a civil action involving AT&T employees who were suing about pension plans. She cited a patent infringement case from 2009. She also cited a civil case involving the demolition of a Ford Motor Company plant. She mentioned a case involving a high school student injured in an accident from a baseball pitching machine. Again, there is no indication that the shootings stem from Salas’ cases.
She stated that five years before her nomination hearing, her husband held a fundraiser in their home for New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. “I know Judge Salas and her husband well, and was proud to recommend her to President Obama for nomination to New Jersey’s federal bench,” Menendez said in a statement. “My prayers are with Judge Salas and her family, and that those responsible for this horrendous act are swiftly apprehended and brought to justice.”
“Throughout my professional career, I have made it a point to reach out to the community, and I have participated throughout the years in programs that seek to empower urban youth to achieve academic and professional success,” Salas wrote.
She stated that she had expressed her interest in pursuing a federal judicial appointment to both of New Jersey’s U.S. Senators. In 2009, she was contacted by Senator Frank Lautenberg’s representative asking if she was interested. She then met with Lautenberg’s selection group and with Menendez and his chief counsel.
According to NJ Monthly, Salas has said one of her “proudest accomplishments” was creating a Pretrial Opportunity Program with another judge. It’s a jail alternative program for drug addicts. The story says Salas would “sit down for frank conversations with defendants,” adding that she “lives and breathes her work.”
3. The Judge’s Son Played Baseball in High School & She Said He Might Pursue a Legal Career
Daniel Anderl, the judge’s only child, is listed by Perfect Game.org as a 2018 graduate of North Brunswick, New Jersey. He was listed as uncommitted. He attended St. Joseph high school and stood 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds. Team last played for was listed as “baseball warehouse.”
“Daniel was a rising junior, enrolled for classes beginning in the next few weeks. He turned 20 last week. We all mourn and grieve this loss to our University community,” Catholic University said in a statement.
St. Joseph’s wrote, “It is with the utmost sadness that we inform you that Dan Anderl ’18 was taken from us last night. Dan was a true friend, a proud Falcon, and an overall wonderful human being. He will be truly missed. We pray for Dan’s family and friends during this unbelievably difficult time — please know, we are mourning with you.”
Salas once told New Jersey Monthly, when her son was 17, that she could see him pursuing a legal career.
“I don’t want to dissuade him, but I was pulling for a doctor,” Salas told the publication. “He’s been arguing with us since he could talk—practicing his advocacy skills.” The story said that Salas “teaches him her mother’s mantra: ‘Tu no eres mejor que nadie, pero nadie es mejor que tu.’ It means you are not better than anyone, but no one is better than you.”
4. Salas Is the Child of Cuban & Mexican Parents
According to Best of NJ, Salas was born on December 29, 1968, in Monterey Park, California, to a Cuban mother and a Mexican father.
She was largely raised by a single mother, the youngest of five children, the site reported, describing her as “a bright child” who “helped her mother negotiate at the welfare office to ensure her family wasn’t snubbed or ignored.”
She eventually went to college and then clerked for New Jersey Superior Court Judge Eugene J. Codey Jr. before becoming a law firm associate and eventually an assistant federal public defender.
5. Threats Against Federal Judges Have Escalated, Although Murders of Federal Judges Are Rare
Threats and “inappropriate communications” against federal judges numbered 4,449 in 2019, CNN reported, adding that such threats have escalated in recent years.
There are about 2,700 federal judges in the country.
In 2005, a man upset that U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow dismissed his lawsuit murdered her mother and husband in Illinois.
From 1979 to April 2020, only three federal judges had been murdered in the United States: Judge John Wood, Judge Richard Daronco and Judge Robert Vance, according to CNN.