NBC Universal, Inc. Judge Esther Salas, seated center, with students at Rutgers Law School.
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 man's body was found on a property in the Sullivan County town of Rockland, near Liberty, which is in the New York Catskills. One senior law enforcement official says authorities are looking into whether there was a package or envelope addressed to the judge found near the man, who may have died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The official said the FBI, US Marshals and police were at the scene, while a vehicle the man was thought to have been using is being searched at a nearby State Police barracks.
They are also investigating whether a gun found at the scene matches the one used to kill Judge Esther Salas' son and wound her husband, law enforcement sources say. Two sources described the dead man as an attorney who filed various sorts of civil lawsuits over the years; no other details were available.
Salas' son and husband were shot at their home in New 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.St. Joseph's High School
Daniel Anderl, 20, son of a New Jersey federal judge died Sunday, July 19, after a gunman shot the young man and his father at their North Brunswick home.
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 had tweeted it was looking for "one subject" in the shooting. It's not clear what led authorities to the location in Liberty where the suspect was found dead.
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.
We're shocked by this horrific and violent act, and @newjerseyoag and @NJSP offer our full investigative support to our federal partners. We express our deepest sympathies to Judge Salas and her family, and to all who are grieving in the aftermath of this tragedy. https://t.co/DCWChz2XdP— AG Gurbir Grewal (@NewJerseyOAG) July 20, 2020
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 and former president of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.
"In her various roles including federal judge, public servant, and bar leader, she has been and continues to be a courageous community leader and trailblazer, and also serves as a role model and mentor for countless young attorneys. We pray for her, her husband and her son," Hispanic National Bar Association President Irene Oria said in a statement.
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. He 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.News 4 New York
FBI agents at the home of Judge Esther Salas after the shooting of her husband and son.
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.”