Short Hills Mall shooting: Funeral held Wednesday

Toni Yates reports from Lakewood, NJ
December 18, 2013 2:29:28 PM PST
Friends and family gathered Wednesday to bid a final farewell to a New Jersey man who was fatally shot during a carjacking late Sunday in a mall parking garage. The two suspects remain at large.

Services for 30-year-old Dustin Friedland were held at Beth Am Shalom Synagogue in Lakewood at 11 a.m.

The synagogue was packed, as many people from across several states turned out to say goodbye.

They included high school friends from Toms River North, fraternity brothers and other college friends from Bucknell, and friends of his wife and parents, who are known in the region for being a loving and community-active couple.

While most did not want to comment publicly on such a somber day, some spoke fondly about Friedland.

"He was just a light-hearted, funny guy," college friend Alex Vienckowski said. "Just lit up the room when he was in there. He was always happy. I don't have any bad memories of him at all."

"You can't begin to describe how senseless a tragedy this is. I can't," said family friend Danny Goldberg.

While police search for his killers, the entire Friedland family, his parents, sister, brother, in-laws, are upheld and supported by a loving Ocean county community.

"The Friedlands are the nicest people in the world," said family friend Dean Enquist.

"I know his parents are community-minded, they have served on a number of non-profit boards in the area. Very generous," said another mourner.

The Hoboken resident was shot in the head as he was returning to his Range Rover after shopping with his wife at The Mall at Short Hills, about 10 miles west of Newark.

The SUV was recovered Monday in Newark.

The victim's wife's uncle released the following statement:
"I'm just worn out. This day was one of the most difficult days of my life. So totally senseless. So totally devastating. So very sad. I'm not mad, I'm numb. Maybe in a few days, weeks or months, I'll get mad. What I do I want? I want the punks responsible to pay. I want them to die. I want them to get what they gave. I don't want to hear about gun laws, that dilutes this atrocity. I don't want to hear about how difficult they had it growing up, that dilutes the selfishness of their crime. And I don't want to hear how we need to show them compassion, that dilutes the fact that they committed MURDER. Murder that PERMANENTLY ended the life of my nephew, a sweet, soft, loving, giving, smart and talented Individual. Murder that has devastated my niece, made her a widow, and murder that has PERMANENTLY scarred my family."

Friedland had a law degree from Syracuse University and was project manager at his family's heating and air conditioning and heating company in Neptune.

Police say Friedland had just opened the passenger door for his wife and was about to get in the driver's side when he was approached by two men and shot. Witnesses described hearing three gunshots.

He was rushed to Morristown Medical Center, where he later died. The victim's wife was uninjured but was also taken to the hospital.

The two suspects, who are described only as African American, fled the scene driving the victims' vehicle.

The investigation remains active and ongoing.

The Essex County Sheriff's Crime Stoppers program is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspects in this case. The mall has added $20,000, the Morris County Sheriff's Crime Stoppers $1,000, and there have been two private donations of $5,000 each, so the total reward is up to $41,000.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-847-7432.