A gunman shot and killed the 20-year-old son of a federal judge in New Jersey and shot and injured her husband Sunday at the family home, the state’s chief district judge said.
The shootings occurred at the North Brunswick home of US 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 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. The FBI tweeted Sunday night that it’s looking for one suspect in the shootings.
The FBI is investigating a shooting that occurred at the home of Judge Ester Salas in North Brunswick Township, New Jersey earlier this evening, July 19. We're looking for one subject & ask that anyone who thinks they may have relevant information call us at 1-973-792-3001.
— FBI Newark (@FBINewark) July 20, 2020
Salas, seated in Newark, was nominated by president Barack Obama and confirmed in 2011. Prior to that she served as a US Magistrate Judge in New Jersey, after working as an assistant public defender for several years. The daughter of Mexican Jew and a Catholic Cuban, she was the first Latina to serve as a federal judge in New Jersey.
Her highest-profile case in recent years was the financial fraud case involving husband-and-wife “Real Housewives of New Jersey” reality TV stars Teresa and Joe Giudice, whom Salas sentenced to prison for crimes including bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion. Salas staggered their sentences so that one of them could be available to take care of their four children.
In 2017, she barred federal prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against an alleged gang leader charged in several Newark slayings, ruling the man’s intellectual disability made him ineligible for capital punishment. Salas later sentenced the man to 45 years in prison.
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.
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who backed Salas’s nomination to the federal bench, said in a statement Sunday night, “My prayers are with Judge Salas and her family, and that those responsible for this horrendous act are swiftly apprehended and brought to justice.”
In an emailed statement, Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the shooting “a senseless act” and said “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.”