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A federal judge said her 20-year-old son, who was killed when a gunman dressed as a delivery man opened fire at the front door of the family's New Jersey home, died trying to protect his father.
Authorities believe anti-feminist attorney Roy Den Hollander was targeting Judge Esther Salas, who presided over one of his cases, when he fired the shots that killed Daniel Anderl and wounded her husband, Mark Anderl.
Salas explained in a video statement, released Monday that the family were cleaning up their North Brunswick home following a celebration of Daniel’s 20th’s birthday when the doorbell ran.
“Daniel and I went downstairs to the basement and we were chatting, as we always do,” Salas said in the emotional statement. “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?’”
The judge went on to explain that her son “sprinted upstairs.”
“Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!’”
Den Hollander, 72, made his disdain for women —who he often referred to as “feminazis”— clear in numerous online screeds. He was known for filing multiple men’s rights lawsuits, including a class action lawsuit against Manhattan nightclubs for offering "ladies’ nights," ABC News reported in 2007. Salas was the serving judge in another case brought by Den Hollander in 2015, one that argued that the male-only United States military draft was discriminatory. Den Hollander abandoned that case last year after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Den Hollander referred to Salas as “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama” in a self-published, 1,700-page book he wrote, the New York Times reported last month. Salas referred to him in her statement as “a madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge.”
“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,” Salas said in her statement. “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.”
Mark, a defense attorney, is still hospitalized and recovering. His injuries have required him to undergo multiple surgeries. Salas was not injured during the incident.
Den Hollander was found dead by apparent suicide on a road in upstate New York hours after the attack on Salas' home. Investigators believe that Den Hollander may also be linked to the shooting death of Marc Angelucci, another men’s rights attorney who was killed at his California home in mid-July. The suspect in that case also appeared to pose as a delivery man, according to the Associated Press. Investigators believe Den Hollander also composed a hit list containing the names three other judges, including Chief Judge of New York Janet DiFore, and another federal judge in New Jersey, the New York Times reported.
In her statement, Salas pleaded for those in power to find a way to keep federal judges’ lives private.
“My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure,” she said. “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.”
Daniel was gearing up to enter his junior year at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. when he was killed. He recently made the institution's School of Arts and Science's dean's list.
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