New Jersey federal judge Esther Salas gushed about her son in a 2018 interview — two years before he was shot dead by a gunman dressed as a FedEx driver in an attack that also left her husband critically injured.
Daniel Anderl, the jurist’s 20-year-old son with husband Mark Anderl, was gunned down Sunday after answering the door at the family’s New Brunswick home. Mark Anderl was also shot.
In a February 2018 interview for New Jersey Monthly magazine, Salas — the state’s first Latino federal magistrate judge — said her son, then a 17-year-old high school senior, was leaning toward a law career.
“I don’t want to dissuade him, but I was pulling for a doctor,” Salas said. “He’s been arguing with us since he could talk —practicing his advocacy skills.”
She said she taught Daniel a Spanish mantra used by her mother, who emigrated from Cuba: “Tu no eres mejor que nadie, pero nadie es mejor que tu.” Translated, the saying means, “You are not better than anyone, but no one is better than you.”
“It’s a profound way to live your life — to speak to the janitor with the same respect that you would show to [US Supreme Court Chief] Justice Roberts,” Salas told the magazine. “It also means, in the end, you have to be respected too.”
Salas, 51, told the outlet she met her husband when he was an assistant prosecutor in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and she was a second-year law school intern.
She said she was “literally getting fingerprinted” when her now-husband approached.
“We’ve been inseparable since 1992,” she added.
Sources told ABC News that the judge’s son, a student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., answered the door Sunday around 5 p.m. and was immediately shot by a man disguised as a FedEx employee.
Mark Anderl, who works as a criminal defense attorney, was shot multiple times, ABC News reported. He was in critical but stable condition Sunday night after undergoing surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick.
Salas, who was reportedly in the basement at the time of the shooting, was not injured.
In an interview with CNN, North Brunswick Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack called him “one of the most straight-up honest attorneys” he has dealt with.
“He’s a very very exuberant, vibrant, one hundred percent pleasant person,” Womack said. “He loves to talk about his wife, and he loves to brag about his son, and how his son would excel in baseball, and how he was doing down in college in Washington … I’m just very sorry to see him going through this.”
The FBI in Newark said it was investigating the shooting and looking for a lone suspect. The agency asked that anyone with relevant information call 973-792-3001.
Salas — who sentenced “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice to more than a year in prison for fraud in 2014 — has served as a US District Court judge in Newark for nine years. She has also been responsible for several other high-profile cases, including ones involving the leaders of street gangs.
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