What to Know
- The son of a New Jersey federal judge was shot to death, her husband wounded, at their home on Sunday, law enforcement officials say
- Judge Esther Salas was believed to be in the basement at the time of the shooting, and she was not injured; the motive remains under investigation
- Judge Salas is the first Latina to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey; she has presided over a number of high-profile cases, including the trial of former "Real Housewife" Teresa Giudice.
The husband and son of a New Jersey federal judge were shot at their home Sunday afternoon, and a massive law enforcement response is underway.
Three senior law enforcement officials tell News 4 New York that a gunman shot Judge Esther Salas' spouse and their 20-year-old son at their North Brunswick home around 5 p.m. Sunday. North Brunswick's mayor confirmed the son's death; the husband is in critical condition.
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.
The FBI, U.S. Marshals, New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General all have personnel investigating, and the FBI tweeted it was looking for "one subject" in the shooting.
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 wasn't immediately clear. Law enforcement officials said one theory was a possible home invasion robbery gone wrong, but stressed all theories were still on the table.
“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.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal pledged the full support of his office as well as the resources of the New Jersey State Police in the probe. The US Marshals are also assisting.
Salas, a judge of the U.S. District Court for New Jersey in Newark, has been in her seat for nine years. Before that she spent five years as a magistrate judge, and nine years prior to that as a federal public defender.
She is the first Latina to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey.
Salas has presided over a number of high-profile trials in her tenure, including the trial of former "Real Housewife" Teresa Giudice.
More recently, Salas has presided over an ongoing lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who claim the company made false and misleading statements about its anti-money laundering policies and failed to monitor “high-risk” customers including convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Her husband, Mark Anderl, is a well-regarded criminal defense attorney. Their son, Daniel, was the only child and he was studying law to follow in his parents' footsteps. Neighbors described the family as good-natured people and wonderful neighbors.
Daniel graduated cum laude with honors from St. Joseph's High School in 2018 and was actively enrolled at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The university plans to hold a mass for Daniel's family 7 p.m. Monday, to be held over zoom, and counseling resources have been made available for students.
"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.”