By JON HAWORTH, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Judge Esther Salas has released a nine-minute videotaped statement about last month’s shooting death of her son and the wounding of her husband, and it’s the first time she has spoken publicly since the shooting two weeks ago.
In the remarks, Salas said the gunman had targeted her because of her position as a federal judge.
“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Salas began. “A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house.”
She goes on to say that her family had just finished a weekend celebration in honor of her son’s 20th birthday and that he had asked her and her husband about hosting a party for a few of his Catholic University of America friends.
Salas, holding back tears, begins to detail the harrowing incident.
“Daniel and I went downstairs to the basement and we were chatting, as we always do. And Daniel said ‘Mom, let’s keep talking, I love talking to you, Mom.’ It was at that exact moment that the doorbell rang, and Daniel looked at me and said, ‘Who is that?’ And before I could say a word, he sprinted upstairs. Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!’” she recalled.
Salas said that her son Daniel protected his father and he took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest before the man, later identified as Roy Den Hollander, turned his attention to her husband and shot him three times: one bullet entering his right chest, the other his left abdomen, and the last one in the right forearm.
“We are living every parent’s worst nightmare — making preparations to bury our only child, Daniel,” Salas continued. “My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure.”
The judge then pivots, saying that federal judges’ addresses and other information is readily available on the internet and that there are companies selling personal data that can be “leveraged for nefarious purposes,” she says.
“In my case, this monster knew where I lived and what church we attended and had a complete dossier on me and my family,” said Salas. “At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable.”
The gunman, Roy Den Hollander, died by suicide. When he was found in Sullivan County, New York, about two hours north of the judge’s home, authorities discovered the names of several other people they believe he wanted to target, including at least one other judge.
She continues: “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench. Now, more than ever, we need to identify a solution that keeps the lives of federal judges private. I know this is a complicated issue, and I don’t pretend to know or have all answers, but together we can find a way. Let’s commence a national dialogue, let’s work collaboratively to find a solution that will safeguard the privacy of federal judges.”
Salas concludes the video by thanking everybody who has supported her and her family in the weeks after the tragedy.
“To everyone who reached out, and to everyone who said a prayer, and to everyone who is keeping my family in your thoughts — thank you. The outpouring of love has been overwhelming and I can tell you it has lifted us during our darkest hours. I just want to say thank you to you all and I love you,” she says.
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