Two weeks after the targeted gun attack at her home that killed her son, Judge Esther Salas is reliving his final moments.
The New Jersey Federal Judge posted a ten-minute video statement addressing the ambush that left 20-year-old Daniel Anderl dead, and his father Mark seriously wounded.
Police believe Roy Den Hollander, an “anti-feminist” lawyer who had a bitter grudge against the judge, was the killer who dressed as a FedEx worker before knocking at her front door. He shot himself dead shortly after the attack.
“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Salas says in the video. “A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house.”
Clearly emotional yet somehow maintaining her composure, the judge described how she had just celebrated her beloved boy’s 20th birthday, who always celebrated every year with his parents.
Taking a breath before continuing, she went on to describe his final moments, and his final words.
“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.”
“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. Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!'”
Her voice finally cracking, the 51-year-old continued: “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 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.”
She said that her husband was still in hospital requiring multiple surgeries, while they are living every parent’s worst nightmare: “Making preparations to bury our only child, Daniel.”
She said that her job requires her to make tough calls that inevitably make people angry, but it comes with the territory and judges accept that.
“But what we cannot accept is when we are forced to live in fear for our lives because personal information, like our home addresses, can be easily obtained by anyone seeking to do us or our families harm.”
“Unfortunately, for my family, the threat was real and the free flow of information from the Internet allowed this sick and depraved human being to find all our personal information and target us.”
She said that federal judges personal information is readily available on the internet, and more needs to be done to protect it.
“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,” she appealed.
While admitting it was a complicated issue she did not have all the answers for, she insisted a national dialogue commence.
She concluded by thanking all the first responders, medical and law enforcement, who helped.
“To everyone who reached out, and to everyone who said a prayer, and to everyone who is keeping my family in your thoughts — thank you,” she said. “The outpouring of love has been overwhelming and I can tell you it has lifted us during our darkest hours.”