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“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” began Judge Esther Salas in an emotional video she released recounting the day her son was killed and her husband shot at the front door of their New Jersey home.

The Salas family had been celebrating the 20th birthday of their only son, Daniel Mark Salas. She called the weekend celebration “a glorious one, filled with love and laughter and smiles.”

Judge Salas took a moment to take a deep breath and compose herself before continuing.

She reflected on a conversation she was having with Daniel in their basement on Sunday, July 19th. Daniel told her, “Mom, let’s keep talking. I love talking to you, Mom.”

The next moment, the doorbell rang, her son went upstairs to answer, and then she heard bullets and someone screaming “No!”

A man disguised as a FedEx driver, complete with a package in hand, had shot both her son and her husband.

Daniel had thrown himself in front of his father and taken the shooter’s first bullet. 

Judge Salas’ husband was shot three times. He has undergone multiple surgeries and remains in the hospital recovering at this time. 

The shooter was later identified as Roy Den Hollander, an “anti-feminist” lawyer who had once argued a case before Judge Salas. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the day after his attack on the Salas family.

Salas is a U.S. District Court Judge in New Jersey, the first Hispanic woman to be appointed to the seat. 

 In her video statement, Salas explained that “federal judges’ addresses and other information is readily available on the internet,” and that this poses a real and urgent danger to the safety of federal judges and their families. 

“We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.” 

According to Salas, Den Hollander had been able to obtain from the internet where Judge Salas lived and what church her family attended. 

“My son’s death cannot be in vain,” she said, “which is why I’m begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.” 

She asked that lawmakers “work collaboratively to find a solution that will safeguard the privacy of federal judges.” 

Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor's in Politics and Policy. She grew up in the great Pacific Northwest, but now calls Northern California home as she pursues ministry school.

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