What to Know
- Authorities believe a man found dead in NY Monday was the shooter who killed a New Jersey federal judge's son and wounded her husband at their home on Sunday, law enforcement sources say
- The two were shot at Judge Esther Salas' North Brunswick home Sunday afternoon; she was believed to be in the basement at the time and wasn't injured
- The body of attorney Roy Den Hollander was found on a property in the Sullivan County town of Rockland; authorities are looking into whether a package or envelope addressed to the judge may have been found nearby
Authorities believe an attorney found dead in New York Monday was the shooter who killed a New Jersey federal judge's son and wounded her husband a day earlier, law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case tell News 4.
The body, identified by sources as attorney Roy Den Hollander, was found on a property in the Sullivan County town of Rockland, near Liberty, which is in the New York Catskills. Den Hollander had previously announced on a GoFundMe page, titled "Cancer knocks you down & doctors finish you off," that he was being treated for an apparent serious cancer condition.
Two officials familiar with the investigation said the crowd sourcing page appears to be authentic. Investigators want to know if, given his grim prognosis, his illness was one reason he decided to target people now.
In part of a collection posted online that resembled an early draft of a memoir, Den Hollander wrote about being treated recently for cancer, and wanting to use the rest of his time to “wrap up his affairs.”
“No more chances now, if there ever really were any, for glory and fortune, but maybe a little old time justice as in all those 1950s television westerns I watched as a kid when the lone cowboy refused to give up without a fight,” he wrote. “The only problem with a life lived too long under Feminazi rule is that a man ends up with so many enemies he can’t even the score with all of them. But law school and the media taught me how to prioritize.”
One senior law enforcement official said authorities are looking into a file or envelope that was meant for Judge Esther Salas possibly found near Den Hollander, who may have died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
Some of the information in the packet may have contained details about a prominent men's rights figure in California who was killed July 11, and authorities are looking into whether Den Hollander could be connected in any way to the killing.
According to law enforcement sources, investigators also found material about Judge Janet DiFiore, the chief judge of the state of New York. The FBI briefed DiFiore of the information on her that had been found in the suspect's car, a court spokesperson said.
A senior official said the FBI, US Marshals and police were at the scene, while a vehicle Den Hollander was thought to have been using was searched at a nearby State Police barracks.
Also among the information said to be found inside that file were details on Judge Salas and her family.
The FBI, US Marshals and police are investigating whether a gun found at the scene in Rockland matches the one used to kill Salas' son and wound her husband, law enforcement sources say. Salas' son Daniel and husband, well-regarded criminal defense attorney Mark Anderl, were shot at their home in North Brunswick around 5 p.m. Sunday. The 20-year-old son later died, while the husband was critically wounded.
Preliminary indications are that the husband answered the door and was shot multiple times; the son came running to the door and was shot as well before the gunman fled, the sources said. Judge Salas was believed to be in the basement at the time of the shooting, and she was not injured.
Some reports indicated the shooter may have been dressed as some sort of delivery driver. FedEx issued a statement Monday saying only it was fully cooperating with authorities and, “Our deepest sympathies are with Judge Salas and her family at this time."
The motive for the shooting wasn't immediately clear, and nor was it clear what led authorities to the location in Liberty where the suspect was found dead. However, Den Hollander’s writings may provide some reason as to the location: He described going to a family cabin in the Catskills community of Beaverkill, about 40 minutes by car from Liberty.
“The FBI is investigating a shooting that took place at the home of Judge Esther Salas in North Brunswick Township, NJ early this evening July 19. We are working closely with our state and local partners and will provide additional updates when available," the bureau said in a statement.
Den Hollander was a notoriously anti-feminist men's rights attorney, whose vitriolic website and book condemn women in rage-filled terms. In one of his books, he specifically blasted Salas by name as "lazy and incompetent" and said her only accomplishment was being a high school cheerleader. Den Hollander appeared in her court at one time as counsel in a lawsuit over the all-male military draft.
(Den Hollander previously sued multiple anchors and reporters from NBC News and other networks, alleging they engaged in an illegal conspiracy to prevent Donald Trump's election to the presidency.)
Den Hollander was best known previously for unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of “ladies night” promotions at bars and nightclubs. His litigation, and willingness to appear on television, earned him spots on The Colbert Report and MSNBC.
Another lawsuit argued night clubs were violating human rights by charging men hundreds of dollars for bottle service. In 2008, he unsuccessfully sued Columbia University for providing women’s studies classes, saying they were “a bastion of bigotry against men.”
Den Hollander filed for bankruptcy in 2011, citing more than $120,000 in credit card debt, as well as rent and other expenses. In the filing, Den Hollander estimated he made about $300 a month from his work, with the bulk of his income coming from a $724 monthly Social Security payment.
In more than 2,000 pages of often misogynistic, racist writings, Den Hollander criticized Salas’ life story of being abandoned by her father and raised by her poor mother as “the usual effort to blame a man and turn someone into super girl.”
Salas, a judge of the U.S. District Court for New Jersey in Newark, has been in her seat for nine years. Salas has presided over a number of high-profile trials in her tenure, including the trial of former "Real Housewife" Teresa Giudice.
Her and Anderl's son Daniel was the only child and he was studying law to follow in his parents' footsteps. He graduated cum laude with honors from St. Joseph's High School in 2018 and was enrolled at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
"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.
New Jersey's political leaders were quick to react to the shootings.
"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 said in a statement.
In a statement, Gov. Phil Murphy said, “Judge Salas and her family are in our thoughts at this time as they cope with this senseless act. 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.”