Federal Judge Esther Salas’ husband was shot and wounded while her 20-year-old son was killed at their home in New Jersey on Sunday, and officials said the gunman was dressed as a FedEx delivery driver.
Judge Salas’ son, Daniel, was shot several times in the chest, and her husband, Mark Anderl, is in critical yet stable condition, North Brunswick Mayor Francis Womack said in an update.
The judge was inside her home but was not harmed.
The FBI and U.S. Marshalls are investigating the matter.
Mark Anderl had surgery for his wounds Sunday night, a judiciary official told The Associated Press.
Asked if officials believed the shooting was linked to the judge’s work or the current climate of political unrest, Chief District Judge Freda Wolfson told AP, “We really have no idea.”
Several elected New Jersey officials reacted to the shooting.
“A brazen and cowardly act of gun violence at their home in North Brunswick,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement. “We give our full support to Judge Salas and her husband at this most trying time. This is an unconscionable tragedy.”
“Judge Salas and her family are in our thoughts at this time as they cope with this senseless act,” Murphy added. “This tragedy is our latest reminder that gun violence remains a crisis in our country and that our work to make every community safer isn’t done.”
Officials said the suspect was wearing a face mask and a FedEx uniform, apparently posing as a delivery driver. Salas’ husband opened the door and was shot before her son was shot several times.
The FBI released a statement Sunday night: “The FBI is investigating a shooting that occurred at the home of Judge Esther Salas in North Brunswick Township, New Jersey earlier this evening, July 19. We are looking for one subject and ask that anyone who thinks they may have relevant information please call FBI Newark at 973-792-3001. We are working closely with our state and local partners and will provide additional updates when available.”
And FedEx Spokesman Jim Masilak said in a statement to news outlets, “We are aware of the media reports and are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.”
“I know Judge Salas and her husband well, and was proud to recommend her to President Obama for nomination to New Jersey’s federal bench. My prayers are with Judge Salas and her family, and that those responsible for this horrendous act are swiftly apprehended and brought to justice,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement.
The New Jersey State Police, the North Brunswick Police, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office are also involved in the investigation.
The U.S. Marshals are now providing 24-hour protection for Judge Salas.
Who Is She?
Salas is the first Latina to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey, and has presided over high-profile trials, including the trial of former “Real Housewife” star Teresa Giudice.
She was nominated by former President Barack Obama. Salas was also recently tasked with investigating a case related to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in Manhattan last year.
Her husband, Mark Anderl, is a well-known criminal defense attorney. Their son, Daniel, was their only child and was studying law at the Catholic University of America in Washington.
“Daniel was a rising junior, enrolled for classes beginning in the next few weeks. He turned 20 last week,” a statement from the university read.