U.S. District Judge Esther Salas remembered sweet moments from her son Daniel’s recent 20th birthday celebration in her first time speaking out since a gunman disguised as a FedEx driver killed her only child and wounded her husband.
“Our family had just finished a weekend celebration in honor of our son Daniel’s 20th birthday," the federal judge recounted in a video that appeared on YouTube. "Daniel always wanted to spend his birthdays with his dad and me so he asked that we host a party for a few of his Catholic University of America friends."
She said she and her husband felt they could safely host a gathering despite the coronavirus pandemic, and invited a few of his friends to spend the weekend.
“The weekend was a glorious one,” she said. “It was filled with love and laughter and smiles."
After church on the morning of July 19, Salas and her son were in the basement cleaning up after the party when he told her, “Mom, let’s keep talking. I love talking to you mom,” she said.
“It was 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," she continued. “Within seconds, I hear the sound of bullets, and someone screaming.”
Her son was shot dead and her husband was injured seconds later from three bullets.
The accused gunman, 72-year-old Roy Den Hollander, a self-proclaimed men’s rights lawyer, was later found dead next to a rental car in an apparent suicide in upstate New York.
Authorities believe Hollander may have been targeting other female judges, and Salas urged law enforcement to find a way to protect other judges from this ever happening. She said the gunman easily found her home address.
“While my husband is still in the hospital recovering from his multiple surgeries, we are living every parent’s worst nightmare,” she said. “Making preparations to bury our only child, Daniel.”