The son and husband of an esteemed Latina federal judge were shot last month by a man who later committed suicide. Her son did not survive the shooting.
In a heart-wrenching video, Federal Judge Esther Salas spoke for the first time about the shooting in her home that ended in her son’s death and left her husband in critical condition. Salas called the shooter, Roy Den Hollander, a “monster” and said her son’s death will not be in vain. Salas is urging lawmakers to issue protections for judges to prevent targeted assaults.
“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,” Salas said in a YouTube video. “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.”
At times during the video, the New Jersey judge held back tears as she recounted what happened on the evening of July 19. Salas said that she and her family had just finished a weekend of birthday celebrations for her only son, 20-year-old Daniel. She said that on July 18, Daniel had a couple of friends over to celebrate his birthday while adhering to coronavirus guidelines. The following day, Salas, her son, and husband Mark Anderl began cleaning up after the party. That is when her life changed forever.
“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?'” Salas said.
“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,” Salas said. “Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!'”
She added, “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.”
“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’ heart-wrenching video is a plea to ensure that this type of targeted assault does not happen to other judges. She said judges and their personal information must be protected at all costs.
“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.