U.S. Judge Esther Salas tells her story on 60 Minutes

Federal Judge Salas's son Daniel was killed by a former plaintiff who previously appeared in front of the judge.

Attacks on the judicial branch
Attacks on the judicial branch 03:10

Judge Esther Salas and her husband Mark described their only child Daniel as "the center of their universe." A twenty-year-old college sophomore who "wanted to squeeze the joy out of every situation."

On July 19, 2020, the tight-knit family of three were in the basement cleaning-up from Daniel's birthday party when the doorbell rang at their New Jersey home. Daniel raced up the stairs to respond to a man dressed as a FedEx driver. 

Moments later gunshots broke the silence of a quiet suburban street. Daniel, shot in the chest, lay at the foot of the front door. Mark, shot three times, was clinging to life on the porch.

Daniel died on the way to the hospital. Mark is still recovering from multiple surgeries.

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Daniel, Mark and Esther Salas

On Sunday, Judge Salas revealed to 60 Minutes harrowing new details about the plot by a former plaintiff to assassinate the judge and possibly others.

"Who knows what could have happened? Salas said to correspondent Bill Whitaker. "But we need to understand that judges are at risk. We need to understand that we put ourselves in great danger every day for doing our jobs…This fact has to wake us up."

In the last five years, threats made toward federal judges have increased 400%. Last year the threats totaled more than 4,200.

The FBI investigation into Daniel's murder revealed the 72-year-old shooter, Roy Den Hollander, had been stalking the Salas family. He had notes about routes the judge took to work, the school her son attended, and where the family went to church.

The FBI also told Judge Salas that the wounds sustained by Daniel appear to indicate he was trying to block Hollander from getting to her.

Police found Hollander's body the day after he killed Daniel Salas. He committed suicide.

The information obtained by Hollander was accessed legally on the internet. Judge Salas is now advocating for new legislation to provide additional protection for federal judges.

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The proposed legislation calls for more than $250 million worth of home security upgrades and the hiring of 1,000 deputy marshals. It also calls for the online removal of personal data, including home addresses, driver's license information, and property tax records.

The legislation is expected to be taken-up by the Senate.

You can watch Bill Whitaker's full report, "Attack on the Judiciary," below.

Judges ask for better protection 13:25

The video above was produced by Keith Zubrow and Sarah Shafer Prediger. It was edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.