'Every parent's worst nightmare': Federal Judge Esther Salas opens about son's murder

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
NJ judge who lost son in shooting speaks out in first interview since killing
MIchelle Charlesworth reports on the one-on-one interview with GMA's Robin Roberts.

NORTH BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The New Jersey judge whose 20-year-old son was killed in a racially motivated assault this summer is speaking out once again about the tragic attack and the impact it has had on her life.

In an exclusive interview that aired Tuesday morning on abc7, Salas told "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts that the attack from Manhattan lawyer and self-described antifeminist Roy Den Hollander motivates her to be an even better judge.

"This man took the most important thing in my life. I can't let him take anything else. I love my job. I'm proud to be a United States district judge. I can't let him take that from me. And I know that I'm gonna be an even better judge," said Salas, who sat before Den Hollander's case in 2015.

Lucy Yang has more on the NYC attorney suspected of fatally shooting the son of a federal judge in New Jersey.

Salas said the July 19 attacks were gender and racially motivated, but it's unclear if there were any other reasons why he targeted her.

The GMA interview came two months after the judge released an emotional YouTube video message recounting that tragic day on July 19.

"While my husband is still in the hospital recovering from his multiple surgeries, we are living every parent's worst nightmare," Judge Salas said back then. "Making preparations to bury, bury our only child, Daniel."

She and her son Daniel were cleaning up after celebrating his 20th birthday when the shooter arrived at their home in North Brunswick.

"We were chatting, as we always do," the judge said. "And Daniel said, 'Mom, let's keep talking. I love talking to you, Mom.' And it was at that exact moment that the doorbell rang. And Daniel looked at me and said, 'Who is that?' And before I could say a word, he sprinted upstairs. Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone scream no. '"

"Daniel, being Daniel, protected his father," she continued. "And he took the shooter's first bullet directly to the chest. The monster then turns his attention to my husband. And began to shoot at my husband."

WATCH: Judge Salas' full YouTube statement

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas provided a video statement on the death of her son and the injuries to her husband caused by a gunman.

Police believe Roy Den Hollander was targeting Judge Salas when he attacked her family while posing as a FedEx driver.

He was later found dead by suicide.

Judge Salas is calling for action to address the lack of privacy afforded to federal judges.

"I am begging those who are in power to do something," she said. "For my family, the threat was real and the free flow of information from the Internet allowed this sick and depraved human being to find all our personal information and target us."

WATCH: NewsCopter 7 over the investigation

NewsCopter 7 was over North Brunswick, NJ as authorities investigated a deadly shooting at the home of federal judge Esther Salas.

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker from New Jersey gave a joint statement on Judge Salas' emotional video.

"What happened to Judge Esther Salas and her family is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. No judge should ever feel unsafe or threatened because they have answered the call of public service to uphold justice. In recent days, we have expressed our commitment to Judge Salas and her family to take action to find a solution to safeguard federal judges.To that end, we are working together on legislation to better protect against potential threats to federal judges and their families. The tragedy experienced by the Anderl-Salas family should give us the sense of urgency to act to protect all federal judges. There's no time to waste."

RELATED: Federal Judge Esther Salas, whose son was killed and husband shot, releases video statement


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