October 27, 2020

Son of Esther Salas Is Killed: Possible Suspect Is Identified in Case

Federal authorities are investigating whether a lawyer whose body was found in Liberty, N.Y., was the gunman who shot into the New Jersey home of a federal judge, killing her son and wounding her husband, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the matter.

New York State Police found the man’s body on Monday morning, hours after the shooting occurred late Sunday afternoon at the home of the judge, Esther Salas of Federal District Court in New Jersey, the official said. The authorities believe that the lawyer died by suicide.

As part of the investigation into the lawyer’s death, the police found a package that was addressed to Judge Salas, according to another law enforcement official briefed on the matter. It was not immediately clear if the lawyer had ever appeared before the judge.

Federal and local authorities had been carrying out an intense search on Monday for the gunman, canvassing the neighborhood while looking for witnesses and surveillance video, according to law enforcement officials.

The authorities believe that somebody dressed in a FedEx uniform was in the neighborhood around the time of the shooting, but it could not be determined if that person was the gunman, one of the officials said.

Judge Salas was in the basement when the shots were fired and was not injured. The shooting occurred at her home in North Brunswick, N.J., which is about 40 miles southwest of New York City.

The suspected gunman’s body was found about a two-hour drive from the judge’s home.

The judge’s husband, Mark Anderl, 63, was shot multiple times and on Monday was in the hospital in stable condition, according to Carlos Salas, an older brother of the judge. Their son, Daniel Anderl, 20, died from a gunshot wound to the heart.

In an interview, Mr. Salas described an account of the shooting that he said was provided to him by federal authorities. The judge’s husband was at home on Sunday afternoon when he looked out the window and thought he saw a FedEx deliveryman. After the doorbell rang, the couple’s son opened the door and was shot. When the older Mr. Anderl went over to see what happened, he was also shot, Mr. Salas said.

The family does not know why the shooting occurred, but Mr. Salas said that either Judge Salas or her husband, a criminal defense lawyer, might have been the intended victims.

“We don’t know if she was the target or he was the target,” Mr. Salas said.

Daniel Anderl, their only child, was about to start his junior year at Catholic University of America in Washington.

“It’s surreal,” Mr. Salas said. “He was a vibrant, young, good-looking man. He had so much promise.”

The F.B.I. had been conducting the investigation with the U.S. marshals and local authorities. A spokesman for FedEx said in a statement that the company was “fully cooperating with the authorities in their investigation.”

On Monday morning, yellow crime scene tape surrounded the judge’s property as television trucks clogged the street. A white BMW X5 was parked in the family’s driveway.

The authorities have not disclosed any possible motive behind the shooting.

Judge Salas presided over a wide range of cases. Last week, she was assigned to oversee a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of investors against Deutsche Bank, contending that the firm failed to flag questionable transactions that were made from the account of the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died last August while in jail awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

In 2014, she sentenced two married stars of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” television show to prison time after the couple pleaded guilty to fraud charges. In 2016, she also sentenced a heroin supplier for the Grape Street Crips Gang to 15 years in prison.

Judge Salas, 51, is the first Hispanic woman to serve as a federal judge in New Jersey. President Barack Obama nominated her to the United States District Court for New Jersey in 2010. She had previously served as a magistrate judge and an assistant federal public defender.

Her son, Daniel Anderl, was interested in following in his parents’ footsteps and pursuing a legal career, according to the judge’s brother.

Daniel Anderl played on the club golf team at Catholic University and made the dean’s list this past spring.

He graduated from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J., in 2018. In a statement, the school called him “a true friend, a proud Falcon, and an overall wonderful human being.”

He played as a left-handed pitcher on St. Joseph’s baseball team, said Nick Loffredo, 21, a teammate and former captain of the team.

“Even if we weren’t in season, he was still playing, he was still practicing,” Mr. Loffredo said.

Judge Salas met her husband when he was a prosecutor in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, according to a 2018 profile of her in New Jersey Monthly. “We’ve been inseparable since 1992,” she told the publication.

After a decade as a prosecutor, Mark Anderl became a criminal defense lawyer and co-founded the law firm Anderl & Oakley P.C. The firm represents clients facing charges that range from drunken driving to murder, according to its website.

Kevin Armstrong contributed reporting.