New Jersey federal judge whose family was attacked details her son’s last words, calls for action


Crime scene tape surrounds the home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, Monday, July 20, 2020, in North Brunswick, N.J. A gunman posing as a delivery person shot and killed Salas’ 20-year-old son and wounded her husband Sunday evening at their New Jersey home before fleeing, according to judiciary officials. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The federal judge whose son was killed and whose husband was shot at their New Jersey home last month called for greater privacy protections for judges in her first comments since the shooting.

In a video posted to YouTube, US District Court judge Esther Salas said the gunman who came to her home too easily obtained her personal information.

“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,” she 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.”

Her emotional comments come about two weeks after a man wearing a FedEx uniform opened fire at her home in North Brunswick. The gunman, a hate-filled men’s rights attorney who had argued a case before Judge Salas, killed her 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, and seriously wounded her husband, Mark Anderl, when they opened the door.

The same gunman was also the primary suspect in the killing of a men’s rights activist in California a week earlier. He was later found dead of what police believe were self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Speaking directly to the camera on Monday, Salas said the shooting came just after Daniel celebrated his 20th birthday at their home with friends from Catholic University, where he was a rising junior.

“As the afternoon progressed, it was time to clean up from the weekend festivities; 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!'”

She said she later learned that her son protected his father and took the first bullet to his chest. Her husband was shot three times: once in the right chest, once in the left abdomen and once in the right forearm.

“While my husband is still in the hospital recovering from multiple surgeries, we are living every parent’s worst nightmare — making preparations to bury our only child, Daniel,” she said.

“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 said she did not know the best way to protect judges’ privacy and called for a national dialogue to solve the issue.

“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,” she said.

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