Gunman who shot NJ judge's son to death and wounded her husband is lawyer who recently had case before her
The gunman dressed as a FedEx delivery driver who shot and critically wounded the husband of a federal judge in New Jersey and killed her son is an anti-feminist lawyer who recently had a case before the judge, according to officials and court records.
After knocking on the North Brunswick, New Jersey, home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, and riddling her husband and son with bullets, the killer took his own life in Liberty, New York, authorities said.
The suspected killer was men’s rights activist and attorney Roy Den Hollander, 72.
Salas’ husband Mark Anderl, a 63-year-old criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor, remains in stable condition in an area hospital. Her 20-year-old son Daniel died at the scene.
Anderl answered a knock on the door of the family’s house on a quiet tree-lined street in North Brunswick about 5 p.m. Sunday. Daniel Anderl was shot when he came to his father’s aid, authorities said. Officials said he was shot through the heart.
It was not immediately clear if Salas or her husband was the target.
In a frightening twist, the FBI on Monday contacted New York state’s chief judge, Janet DiFiore, to notify her that Den Hollander had her name and photo in his car, her spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, confirmed. The agents didn’t indicate whether Hollander meant to target her too, Chalfen said.
Salas was appointed to the federal bench nine years ago by President Barack Obama. She is the first Hispanic woman to serve on a federal bench in New Jersey. Previously, she was a magistrate judge and a public defender.
She had recently been appointed to preside over a case involving Deutsche Bank and financier Jeffrey Epstein, who hanged himself in a federal lockup while awaiting trial for sexually abusing dozens of young women.
Among those shocked by the attack was U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
“On behalf of the entire Justice Department, I send my deepest condolences to Judge Salas and her family on the death of their son and wish her husband a swift and complete recovery,” Barr said in a statement.
“This kind of lawless, evil action carried out against a member of the federal judiciary will not be tolerated, and I have ordered the full resources of the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service to investigate the matter.”
The investigation is likely to focus on any ties between Salas and Den Hollander.
“Judge Salas and her family are in our thoughts at this time as they cope with this senseless act,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
About a dozen FBI agents were searching for clues at Den Hollander’s Stuyvesant Town apartment Monday evening.
According to court documents, Hollander had been a lawyer in a case pending before Salas challenging the military’s male-only draft. The self-described “anti-feminist” had railed against the gender-based service requirement, which he described as an attack on men’s rights.
Den Hollander was taken off of the case in June 2019. The plaintiff hired a new attorney.
Den Hollander had attached himself to other so-called male oppression crusades. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge said Hollander was not the victim of age and gender discrimination in 2010 when a bouncer at Amnesia nightclub told him to pay up, while letting a young lady in for free.
“There’s no justice for guys in this day and age,” Den Hollander said at the time.
He also sued several Manhattan hot spots, including the Copacabana, for organizing “ladies’ nights” drink specials. The suit was thrown out by federal appeals court in 2010.
In 2008, Den Hollander also sued Columbia University, claiming it discriminates against men by teaching a doctrine that scapegoats men for all of history’s troubles.
Den Hollander was suffering from terminal cancer, as he revealed in a lawsuit he filed in February against NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. In a post on his website, he referred to Salas as a “lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.”
Salas’ son attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
“I was shocked last night to hear news of Daniel Anderl’s tragic death Sunday evening in New Jersey,” said Catholic University President John Garvey. “Daniel was a rising junior, enrolled for classes beginning in the next few weeks. He turned 20 last week.”
Neighbors on Monday bemoaned the tragedy that has befallen the quiet community.
“Just wonderful people. I never heard a bad word about them,” said Marion Costanza, 76, a former defense lawyer who was friendly with Salas. “Obviously, somebody was after them. That’s my take on it.”
Costanza was napping when the gunfire erupted.
“They were saying that it was her house and I almost died, Costanza said. “What could I think?”
Of the son running to care for his dad, she said, “Another kid may have locked themselves in the bathroom or in a closet … And Daniel came running down the stairs after hearing the shot, and he’s the one that’s dead.”
Costanza said Salas came upstairs from the basement when she heard the shots.
“Daniel … that is the worst, because he was an only kid, only child. The family was very devoted to one another, very close to one another of course,” Costanza said. “When he went off to college even, she was devastated, like she was losing her only child … and she cried.”
Daniel was a baseball player for St. Joseph’s Regional High School in Metuchen before going off to Catholic University.
“He was very close to his father, they had a basketball thing set up at one time and he would always be there with his father playing basketball,” Costanza said.
The families had planned to have dinner together Friday at Casa Giuseppe, a local restaurant.
She added, “I think it will be a while before I see Esther again, because to return to this house without that child there … ”
(Kerry Burke contributed to this story.)
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