The New Jersey federal judge whose 20-year-old son was shot dead by a racist and misogynistic lawyer allegedly dressed as a FedEx driver said the tragedy inspired her to be ‘a better person.’
In a gut-wrenching interview with Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, Judge Esther Salas recalled her son, Daniel Andrel, and the tragedy that took place this summer.
‘I know that I’m gonna strive every morning to be the best person that I could be. My son gave his life for his father and I. I have to look at that and say, “What a gift,”‘ Salas told GMA.
‘I can’t squander it. And I’m gonna strive for betterment. I wanna be a better judge. I wanna be a better person. I just wanna be better.’
Judge Esther Salas (pictured) of North Brunswick, New Jersey, spoke with Good Morning America about her son’s death in an interview scheduled for Tuesday
On July 19, Roy Den Hollander allegedly disguised himself as a FedEx driver and targeted Salas’ family home in North Brunswick.
Authorities said Den Hollander, a 72-year-old self-proclaimed anti-feminist lawyer, ambushed the family’s home after knocking on their door around 5pm.
Salas revealed in August that her son and her husband went to the door at the same time and that Daniel stepped in front of his father to take the first bullet.
‘Daniel being Daniel protected his father. And he took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest,’ Salas said.
‘The monster then turned his attention to my husband and began to shoot at my husband. One shot after another,’ she said.
The young man’s father, Mark A. Anderl, was shot multiple times before Den Hollander fled.
Daniel Andrel (left) was killed via gunshot wounds on July 19, while Mark A. Anderl (right) was shot several times and survived after being transported to a hospital
Authorities said Roy Den Hollander (pictured), a misogynistic and racist lawyer, ambushed Salas’ family home this summer while dressed as a FedEx driver
Salas told GMA that Den Hollander ‘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,’ she added.
Salas and Den Hollander first came into contact in 2015 when he was hired to represent a 17-year-old girl who sued Selective Service System, claiming the military’s male-only rule when enforcing a draft was discriminatory.
There has not been a military draft for more than 40 years, and women are able to enlist in the military voluntarily if they are qualified.
Judge Salas allowed Den Hollander’s case to proceed, which was a win for him.
Salas (pictured): ‘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’
Den Hollander (pictured) later committed suicide on July 22 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and authorities discovered his body inside a car in Catskills
In 2019, Den Hollander was however removed from the case when his client replaced him for unknown reasons.
Salas never ruled against Den Hollander, but he repeatedly complained about her in concerning online ramblings.
Salas told GMA that she received threats in the past, but did not have any indication that they were related to Den Hollander.
In August, Salas shared a statement via video that called for protections and greater privacy for federal judges.
‘My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench. Now, more than ever, we need to identify a solution that keeps the lives of federal judges private.
Pictured: Daniel (center) and his father, Mark (top), in a photo taken before the 20-year-old’s death in July
‘I know this is a complicated issue, and I don’t pretend to know or have all the answers, but together we can find a way.
‘Let’s commence a national dialogue, let’s work collaboratively to find a solution that will safeguard the privacy of federal judges.’
The U.S. Marshals Service, which protects federal judges, reported that there were 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications against such public servants last year. That number was 926 in 2015.
In his rambling, 1,700-page book titled Stupid Frigging Fool, Den Hollander referred to Salas as ‘this hot Latina Judge in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey whom Obama had appointed.’
He wrote: ‘At first, I wanted to ask the Judge out, but thought she might hold me in contempt.’
Elsewhere in the book, he called her a ‘lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.’
Pictured: FBI and Federal Marshals process the scene at Federal Judges Esther Salas home where her husband was shot and her son was killed by an unknown gunman
In one of his online ramblings, he complained that she was taking too long to rule on it.
‘Just unbelievable, by now we should have been knocking on the U.S. Supreme Court’s door, but lady unluck stuck us with an Obama appointee.
‘Female judges didn’t bother me as long as they were middle age or older black ladies.
‘They seemed to have an understanding of how life worked and were not about to be conned by any foot dragging lawyer.
‘Latinas, however, were usually a problem—driven by an inferiority complex,’ he fumed.
Den Hollander later committed suicide on July 22 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and authorities discovered his body inside a car in Catskills.
Authorities discovered the names of several other people they believed he wanted to target, including Judge Janet DiFiore, New York State’s chief judge.
Salas’ interview with Good Morning America will air on Tuesday at 7 a.m. ET.