"Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same." So starts an emotional nine-minute video released Monday by US District Judge Esther Salas, whose 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, her only child with husband Mark Anderl, was fatally gunned down on July 19 at their home in North Brunswick, NJ. Salas' husband was critically injured in the attack. In the video, Salas details how her family had a weekend-long birthday celebration for her son before the Sunday ambush, allowing him to have friends from Catholic University of America stay with them, following safety protocols during the pandemic. "The weekend was a glorious one," she says, tearing up. "It was filled with love and laughter and smiles." After his friends left on Sunday, Salas and Daniel set about cleaning up from the festivities.
The two of them were in the basement, and Salas says, "We were chatting, as we always do. And Daniel said, 'Mom, let's keep talking. I love talking to you, Mom.'" Salas says it was "at that exact moment" when they heard the doorbell ring. She says Daniel sprinted upstairs, and she then heard gunshots and screaming. Salas—who says she later learned her son jumped in front of Mark Anderl to protect him—says more protections are needed for judges' privacy; she believes she was targeted by a "monster" due to her job: "My son's death cannot be in vain." NBC News notes nearly 4,500 threats and other "inappropriate" messages were sent to federal judiciary members in 2019. The gunman in Salas' case, Roy Den Hollander, 72, who posed as a FedEx driver, took his own life and was found dead hours after the attack. Per ABC News, authorities say he had other potential targets, including another judge. (Read more New Jersey stories.)