The federal judge whose son was shot dead two weeks ago has, for the first time, spoken about the horrific moment her only child was killed on their doorstep by a “madman” posing as a FedEx courier.
In a painfully emotional video statement, Judge Esther Salas said she is certain her family was targeted because of her job. Her husband, Mark Anderl, was also shot three times and is recovering in a hospital. The gunman is believed to be the self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer Roy Den Hollander, who was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the killing.
“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Judge Salas said in her statement on YouTube. “A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house.”
Salas said the family and friends were celebrating her son Daniel’s 20th birthday that weekend and several of his friends had stayed overnight. Holding back tears, she described the weekend as “glorious” and “filled with love, laughter, and smiles” before the nightmare started.
Salas said she and her son were in the basement talking when the doorbell rang, and Daniel ran upstairs to answer. The judge recounted the moment she realized something was wrong: “Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!’”
“He took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest,” said Salas, adding that Daniel’s last act was to try to protect his father from gunfire. “The monster then turned his attention to my husband and began to shoot at my husband, one shot after another.”
Anderl remains in the hospital after taking three bullets and is recovering from “multiple surgeries,” Salas said.
The judge said the gunman was carrying a FedEx package, apparently to tempt the family into answering the door. While she didn’t name him herself, the FBI has identified Den Hollander as its chief suspect. Den Hollander had a case—a challenge to the military’s male-only draft—pending before Salas, according to court documents, and had referred to her a “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge.”
Salas said the gunman had compiled a dossier on her and her family, including their home address, using information that is freely available to the public. She went on to say that her case proves it’s time to place more restrictions on judges’ personal details.
“We know that our job requires us to make tough calls, and sometimes those calls can leave people angry and upset,” she said, adding, “That comes with the territory and we 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.”
The tearful judge went on to say, “We are living every parent’s worst nightmare... We are making preparations to bury my only child, Daniel. 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.”