The murder of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas’ 20-year-old son will renew questions about the need for enhanced security at the homes of federal judges.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has taken the lead role in the hunt for the man who killed Daniel Anderl at his family home on Sunday evening, has not released any images of a possible suspect.
The judge’s husband, criminal defense attorney Mark Anderl, was also shot during the attack at Salas’ North Brunswick home. He was brought to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick in critical condition and was listed as stable after undergoing emergency surgery.
A multi-state manhunt is now underway.
In 2006, after a the husband and mother of an Illinois federal judge were murdered in the judge’s home, Congress approved millions for the installation of alarm systems and other upgraded security for the homes of federal judges.
Security for the federal judiciary is provided by the U.S. Marshal Service.
Sources told the New Jersey Globe on Sunday that a gunman was dressed as a Federal Express driver when he rang the doorbell of the Salas home early Sunday evening.
It’s not clear whether the suspect, who has not been identified, was wearing a hat or even a face mask – common during the coronavirus pandemic – when he approached the Salas home.
The Newark office of the FBI tweeted a request for information on Sunday evening.
“We’re looking for one subject & ask that anyone who thinks they may have relevant information call us at 1-973-792-3001,” the tweet said.
There was no description of the alleged shooter.
Law enforcement has not commented on any possible motive, and it still remains unclear whether the Daniel Anderl’s murder was related to the work of his mother, his father, or if it was indiscriminate.
One source told the Globe that they did not believe this was a random shooting.
Salas has faced threats in the past, the Globe has learned, but there are no indications at this time that the murder of her son was connected to any high-profile cases she might have been assigned to.
According to the U.S. Marsal Service, “explicit threats and inappropriate communications against the judiciary, U.S. Attorneys, and other court officers are assessed to determine the level of danger.”
In 2018, the Marshal Service said it responded to 5,038 facility incidents, evaluated 1,756 security incidents and conducted 2,255 preliminary assessments related to the nation’s 2,200 sitting federal judges and more than 26,000 federal prosecutors and court officials.
In 2018, that resulted in the opening of 531 “predicated protective investigations based on the presence of or potential for criminal activity,” according to the U.S. Marshals Service.