In a nine-minute video, Salas, who lives in New Jersey and serves on the federal bench there, said she and her colleagues understand and accept that their rulings will sometimes anger people.
“But what we cannot accept is when we are forced to live in fear for our lives when personal information like our home addresses can easily be obtained by anyone seeking to do us or our families harm,” she said. “We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again. But we can make it harder for those who target us to track us down.”
Salas recounted how a wonderful mid-July weekend at home with her husband, Mark Anderl, celebrating their son Daniel’s 20th birthday suddenly ended in gunfire and tragedy.
Struggling to speak at times through tears, the judge recounted how that Sunday afternoon, she and Daniel were cleaning up from the party.
“Daniel said, ‘Mom, let’s keep talking. I love talking to you, Mom,’ and it was at that exact moment that the doorbell rang,” she said. Daniel ran to see who it was, and seconds later, she heard gunshots. Daniel was shot in the chest and died; her husband was shot three times and remains in the hospital.
Investigators have said Roy Den Hollander, a self-declared men’s rights activist who had filed a case before Salas, rang their door pretending to be a FedEx deliveryman and then opened fire when the door opened. Hollander, who was later found dead in New York state of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, is also a suspect in an earlier killing of a California man. Investigators suspect he targeted that man because he resented his more prominent position among those advocating for men’s rights.
In her video, Salas never referred to the gunman by name, instead calling him a “monster” and a “madman.”
“The free flow of information from the Internet allowed this sick and depraved human being to find all our personal information and target us,” she said. “Currently, federal judges’ addresses and other information is readily available on the Internet. In addition, there are companies that will sell your personal details that can be leveraged for nefarious purposes.
“In my case, the monster knew where I lived, what church we attended, and had a complete dossier on my life and family.”
Derrick Driscoll, deputy director of the U.S. Marshals Service, which is tasked with protecting federal judges, said the agency “will continue to work aggressively” with the judge, Congress, and others to “enhance protections for those who administer justice for our nation.”
Driscoll said the agency’s “hearts and prayers go out to Judge Salas and her family during this tragic time. No federal judge should ever be targeted for violence because of their work ensuring the rule of law in the United States.”
In her video, the judge also profusely thanked the medical staffers who have cared for her husband, and the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that have helped them through what she called their “unfathomable pain.”