By HALEY YAMADA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A New Jersey judge whose 20-year-old son was killed in a racially motivated assault this summer opened up about her life since the tragic attack.
Salas told ABC News’ Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview that the attack from Manhattan lawyer and self-described antifeminist Roy Den Hollander motivates her to be an even better judge.
“This man took the most important thing in my life. I can’t let him take anything else. I love my job. I’m proud to be a United States district judge. I can’t let him take that from me. And I know that I’m gonna be an even better judge,” said Salas, who sat before Den Hollander’s case in 2015.
Salas said the attacks were gender and racially motivated, but it’s unclear if there were any other reasons why he targeted her.
Daniel Anderl, Salas’ son, was killed in the family’s home on July 19 after answering the door to a man allegedly dressed as a FedEx delivery person. Her husband, attorney Mark A. Anderl, was also shot multiple times.
Salas said that she had received threats in the past, but did not have any indication that they could have been from Den Hollander. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, which is tasked with protecting federal judges, there were 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications against protected persons in 2019 — up from just 926 in 2015.
“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,” Salas said in a videotaped statement in August. “I know this is a complicated issue, and I don’t pretend to know or have all the 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.”
After the attack, Den Hollander was found on July 22 in Sullivan County, New York, about two hours north of the judge’s home. He had died by suicide. With him, authorities discovered the names of several other people they believe he wanted to target, including at least one other judge.
Salas told Roberts that she is going to strive to be the “best person” she can be for the sake of her son.
“I know that I’m gonna strive every morning to be the best person that I could be. My son gave his life for his father and I. I have to look at that and say, ‘What a gift,"” she said. “I can’t squander it. And I’m gonna strive for betterment. I wanna be a better judge. I wanna be a better person. I just wanna be better.”
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