NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. —The son of a federal judge has died, and the judge’s husband critically injured in a shooting at their New Jersey home Sunday.
The FBI, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and North Brunswick police are among numerous law enforcement agencies looking for the person responsible. The shootings occurred at the North Brunswick home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, and killed her son, Daniel, Chief District Judge Freda Wolfson told The Associated Press. Her husband, defense lawyer Mark Anderl, was injured, Wolfson said.
“The FBI is investigating a shooting that occurred at the home of Judge Esther Salas in North Brunswick Township, New Jersey earlier this evening, July 19. We are looking for one subject and ask that anyone who thinks they may have relevant information please call FBI Newark at 973-792-3001. We are working closely with our state and local partners and will provide additional updates when available,” the FBI Newark Office said in an email statement Sunday night.
NBC New York reports Anderl answered the door and was the shot several times, and his son, who was in his 20s, was shot as well when he came to the door. The judge was not injured in the shooting. Anderl was critically injured, the report states.
The gunman posed as a delivery driver, according to a judiciary official who wasn’t authorized to comment and spoke anonymously to the AP. They said Salas was in the basement at the time and wasn’t injured and her husband is recovering from surgery.
The perpetrator, believed to be a lone gunman, was not in custody, the official said.
“Judge Salas and her family are in our thoughts at this time as they cope with this senseless act,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a Facebook post.
“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,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. said in a statement late Sunday.
A police monitoring service reported a shooting in the area of Point of Woods Drive, off Hidden Lake Drive about 5:15 p.m. Sunday.
The street, located in the Hidden Lake section of North Brunswick, has been closed off to traffic.
One woman, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, said police knocked on her door asking if she had any video footage of the area, and she said she was unable to help them, but said another neighbor did provide video to law enforcement.
“They are still here, not just the police but the FBI, there are agents all over the place,’’ she said. “It’s unbelievable what is going on.”
Another neighbor said she did not hear any gunshots, but noticed something was amiss when an ambulance arrived.
“We didn’t know anything was going on, until a neighbor told us what happened,’’ said the woman, who has lived on the street for about 18 years. “You don’t expect anything like this around here. We all know our neighbors, we all greet each other and it’s a quiet area.”
Mark Anderl has law offices in both Perth Amboy and Princeton.
Daniel Anderl was preparing to enter his junior year at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He made the university’s School of Arts and Science’s Dean’s List for the spring semester.
“He was a great kid and well-liked,” St. Joseph High School Principal Anne Rivera said.
“He was a well-rounded student and did well in school. He epitomized what it is to be a St. Joseph man. We are in shock and we are so sad for the family. They remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
Daniel Anderl was planning to attend law school. In an interview with New Jersey Monthly two years ago, Salas playfully suggested her son had the makings of an attorney, telling the magazine, “He’s been arguing with us since he could talk, practicing his advocacy skills.”
The police monitoring service indicated police were looking for a suspect who fled the scene.
The monitoring service also indicated Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick was put on lockdown due to the shooting.
Salas was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed in 2011. Prior to that she served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in New Jersey, after working as an assistant public defender for several years.
Salas oversaw many high-profile criminal cases including the corruption trial of ex-Bergen County Democratic leader Joe Ferriero whom she sentenced to 35 months in prison in 2015.
Salas was born in Los Angeles and earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from Rutgers University. She worked nearly 10 years as a federal public defender and was head of the Hispanic Bar Association before becoming the first Latina magistrate in New Jersey. She was approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate for a judgeship in 2011.
Among her most high profile cases was the financial fraud case involving “Real Housewives of New Jersey” reality TV stars Teresa Giudice and her husband Joe who were sentenced to staggered prison sentences so they would be able to care for their four daughters.
Recently Salas has presided over a lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who claim the company allegedly failed to monitor “high-risk” customers including convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Contributing: Greg Tufaro, Bridgewater Courier News; The Associated Press
Follow Suzanne Russell on Twitter: @SRussellMyCJ