The New Jersey Shooting Suspect Left a Pro-Trump Paper Trail

In a trove of documents published online, Roy Den Hollander directed misogynistic and racist insults at U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, and expressed support for the president.

A police officer on a dead-end street
Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

Roy Den Hollander, the self-described “anti-feminist” attorney who authorities say is the chief suspect in the shootings of the son and the husband of a federal judge in New Jersey, attacked that judge by name in misogynistic, racist writings he wrote over a period of years and posted in bulk on the Internet Archive. Den Hollander, who describes himself as a Trump volunteer in his writings, called the judge an “affirmative action” case who affiliated with those who wanted “to convince America that whites, especially white males, were barbarians, and all those of a darker skin complexion were victims.”

Esther Salas’s 20-year-old son was killed in the attack at their home on Sunday, and her husband was wounded. Den Hollander was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Rockland, New York. Den Hollander’s insults toward Salas were included in a 2,028-page collection of writings he posted online in 2019 under the username Roy17den, a handle that mirrored his Twitter account, @roy17den, and the email address he used both in personal letters and in court filings.

“Female judges didn’t bother me as long as they were middle age or older black ladies,” he writes when discussing a lawsuit he filed that went before Judge Salas, the first Hispanic woman appointed a federal judge in New Jersey. “They seemed to have an understanding of how life worked and were not about to be conned by any foot dragging lawyer. Latinas, however, were usually a problem—driven by an inferiority complex.”

Along with the attacks on Salas, Den Hollander’s writings also go after President Barack Obama (who he said has an “obsession to turn America into a banana republic”), Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (who he claimed was “angry that nobody had invited her to her high school senior prom”), Hillary Clinton (whose supporters were “teary-eyed, sad-sack, PC loonies watching their power of intolerance go down the drain”), and an Obama appointee (whom he describes as part of “that Orwellian party of feminists, ethnics, Muslims, illegals and queers who think they are superior to everyone else, especially white males.”)

In contrast, he writes in the same sprawling document that he was a volunteer for the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, who he said “was telling the truth about illegal aliens in his bid for the Presidency.” Den Hollander describes “leaving the law library in the early afternoon for Trump Tower, 12 blocks up Fifth Avenue, to make telephone calls during the primaries and the general election.” Recounting his time working for the campaign, he says most of his fellow volunteers “were aging baby boomers like me. Once in a while some hot young model chick would show up to make calls. They never sat next to me.” The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a question about the nature of Den Hollander’s volunteer work, or whether they had any record of his involvement.

Den Hollander, who was 72, held deeply misogynistic beliefs about women and filed a series of lawsuits against what he considered unfair advantages they had over men. One of those suits, in which he argued that it was unconstitutional for women not to be subject to military draft, reached Salas’s court in 2019. Salas did not throw out the suit, as many of Den Hollander’s previous cases had been. She instead allowed the lawsuit to proceed through the court system. But Den Hollander was upset by what he considered to be Salas’s delaying of the case. He complained that she allowed the Department of Justice to file its fourth motion to dismiss the case, suggesting she was “trying to keep this case in her court until a weatherman showed her which way the legal winds were blowing.”

“Salas clearly wanted to further her career by moving up the judicial ladder to the Court of Appeals or maybe even the Supreme Court,” he writes. “After all, there was now a Latina seat in the form of Sotomayor on the Court.”

Judge Salas came from a disadvantaged background. She is the daughter of a Cuban immigrant; her home burned down when she was 10, and her family lost everything. Salas eventually earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from Rutgers University, became a public defender, and was elected president of New Jersey’s Hispanic Bar Association. “For this little girl from Union City to grow up and become a U.S. District Judge—it’s beyond words,” she told a local reporter after she became a federal judge in 2006.

Den Hollander, who turned his hatred of women into a string of media appearances over more than a decade, saw Salas’s biography differently. “It was the usual effort to blame a man and turn someone into super girl—daddy abandoned us, we were indigent, which means they lived off of the taxpayer, but we overcame all odds,” he writes in one of the documents posted online last year. He describes Salas’s decade as a public defender as “representing lumpen proletariat ne’er-do-wells.” Her “one accomplishment,” he says, was being a high-school cheerleader.

He also attacks Justice Sotomayor, saying she was “52 years old, prime age for a Feminazi.” His voluminous writings—more than 10,000 pages of PDFs—show a deep sense of grievance against women, especially his mother, who he claims told him, at age 4, “I wish I had listened to your father and never had you!” He calls her a witch, a “Nazi loon,” and “another malevolent female.” He also describes kissing girls in third grade frequently enough that their parents complained to their teacher. The document, one of several he uploaded to the Internet Archive, is a disturbing but by now common coda to high-profile incidents of gun violence: the suspected shooter leaving a trail of arguments and anger in random corners of the web. Many of them involve a hatred of women and people of color, and connect broad claims about the world with very personal claims of grievance.

“All my life I saw other people, even strangers in the street, as potential enemies with whom conflict seemed more likely than cooperation,” he writes. “I understood that, except for my few friends, I didn’t like people because they scared me; and when someone is afraid, he hates others for causing him the humiliation and himself for allowing it. But where did this ever-present fear come from—my genes or the way my mother raised me? I opted for the culpability of my mother with some assistance from my father.”

He also writes viciously about a Russian woman he says he married, calling her a “mafia prostitute.” Den Hollander writes at length about the time he spent living in Russia, including time he says he spent working for Kroll Associates. At one point, he describes difficulties he said he was having with the U.S. government, claiming it had “confiscated” his U.S. citizenship. “Boy, was I glad I didn’t vote for Obama—wrote-in Putin instead,” he writes.

“Perhaps the Violence Against Women’s Act could get my citizenship back,” he added. “All I’d have to do is date an American girl then accuse her of abuse.”

Some of his interest in Russia is clearly tied to his support of the president. On the question of meddling in the 2016 election, he writes that, during the debate over Clinton’s email server, he had “what I thought was a great idea to help Trump.” If Russian intelligence had hacked the server, he would try to use an old Russian contact to dig up her emails. “So I contacted a GRU buddy requesting a few copies of the bleached or classified emails, if they had them. Telling him, I’d make them public through my media contacts.” His contact, he claims, said that GRU didn’t have the emails, which he took as a sign that “they did not hack the server or they wanted Hillary to win.”

In August 2016, Den Hollander filed a lawsuit against seven prominent political journalists, alleging that they were part of a racketeering scheme against Trump. “The PC-Feminists had taken over much of the news media since I had worked in TV News in the 1970s and 1980s as a writer and political producer,” he writes. His “evidence” for the reporters’ crimes was 30 pages of transcripts of their reporting that he claimed was unfair to Trump. He later expanded his legal targets to include a total of 17 reporters and seven major news organizations, including the major broadcast networks, The New York Times, and The Washington Post: “Twenty-four lying, prevaricating and dissembling media defendants—alright!” He expresses disappointment that, “unlike some of my other cases, this one attracted zero media attention.”

He was elated by Trump’s election (“Every so often truth and justice win out”) and says he attended his inauguration in January 2017, bringing with him his red Make America Great Again hat and describing Trump’s “American carnage” speech as “short but solid.” He says he was being interviewed by a French TV reporter when “some Antifa millennial” interfered with the camera shot. Implausibly, he claims that he showed mercy by not using “a spear hand strike” on the Millennial, because “he would have been dead,” and that a local D.C. police officer was so impressed with his toughness that he asked Den Hollander “to apply to my squad.”

“I did volunteer work for Trump’s campaign because I hate PC-Feminism more than I hate America,” he writes. “If I had hated America more, I would have worked for Hillary’s campaign.”

On page 1,776 of his PDF, he writes something that would ring chillingly accurate this week: “The Feminists should be careful in their meddling with nature. There are 300 million firearms in this country, and most of them are owned by guys.”

And on page 1,880: “It makes no sense for men to disarm in the face of an evil that wants to exercise totalitarian power over them. They have a right to revolt against that tyranny, to take it down. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the tyranny of George III or the Feminists.”