Mall at Short Hills victim defending wife from carjackers when shot
The Hoboken lawyer killed by carjackers at an upscale New Jersey mall gave up his life — to protect his wife.
Dustin Friedland had just let his beloved Jamie into their luxury SUV and was walking around to the driver’s side when he was ambushed by two crooks who demanded the keys, a source close to the investigation told The Daily News.
“He knew his wife was in there and he refused,” the source said Monday.
Instead, the brave lawyer resisted and in the struggle four shots were fired, one of which mortally wounded Friedland, police said.
DUSTIN J. FRIEDLAND/FACEBOOK
Dustin Friedland, 30, was shot and killed during a violent carjacking at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey.
“Then one of them comes to her door and says, ‘Get out of the car’,” the source said. “She got a look at him.”
Friedland died later Sunday night with his heartbroken wife by his side.
His 2012 Range Rover, which is worth at least $70,000, was found Monday in the back of an abandoned Newark house, police said.
Heartbroken relatives described the 30-year-old Friedland as a sensible man who would avoided violence if at all possible.
JAMIE SCHARE FRIEDLAND/FACEBOOK
The man was remembered as a devoted husband to his wife, Jamie (left). The wife was with him as he was gunned down in cold-blood.
But Jamie Friedland’s boss at the Manhattan law firm where she works as an attorney said he would have fought like a lion for her.
“Dustin was rational, intelligent and had great judgment,” said Adam Leitman Bailey. “I highly doubt that he fought the attackers to save his car. I do believe he would fight for his wife’s life.”
“We were like, ‘Oh my God, no way’,” she said. “Very sad.”
Reached in Michigan, Friedland’s uncle said the killers didn’t need to shoot his nephew.
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said it is unclear why the two suspects targeted the silver Range Rover.
“I hope they catch and kill him,” he said. “I’m not a violent person, but this criminal doesn’t deserve to breathe.”
Friedland's parents live in Toms River, N.J., and their neighbors seconded the grieving uncle.
“Dustin would have given them the car,” one woman, who asked not to be identified, told the Newark Star-Ledger newspaper. “Dustin was sweet, kind, gentle, giving. I just can't believe God took him away so soon. He didn't deserve it."
Both Friedland and his wife were graduates of Syracuse University's law program, Bailey said. The slain man also had an engineering degree from Bucknell University.
Police investigate the scene of the fatal shooting, which occurred on the third-floor of a parking garage near Nordstrom.
Of late, Friedland was working as a project manager at Epic Mechanical, a firm based in Neptune, N.J., that "analyzed construction-related legal claims," according to his LinkedIn profile.
A woman who answered the phone at Epic declined to comment.
Meanwhile, police were asking for the public’s help in identifying the carjackers, who vanished after dumping the SUV with license plate U26-BVD.
Tipsters are being urged to call the DA’s office at (877)847-7432.
Friedland, 30, from Hudson County, died after being shot in the head during a violent carjacking the parking deck of The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey. He’s seen here being taken away from the scene of the crime.
The Range Rover has been impounded and crime investigators were looking for physical evidence that could help identify the culprits.
"We do not know why that car (was targeted), but it obviously was a car with some value," Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said earlier.
The mall, which includes high-end stores like Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, usually closes at 6 p.m. on Sundays. But it was open later for holiday shoppers.
The mall had been open later than its normal to accommodate holiday shoppers.
Workers arriving for their shifts said they were frightened.
"I hope the mall will take extra precautions and add security,” said an employee at Stuart Weitzman who declined to provide her name. “I’m not sure what the mall can do but it doesn’t feel so safe — especially after last night.”
The area where Friedland was gunned down continued to be cordoned off by police.
Mall officials declined to comment on the deadly shooting or on what safety measures they have taken in its aftermath. But this is not the first time the shopping mecca has been hit by carjackers:
The up-scale mall is located in Short Hills, N.J., a roughly 25 miles away from New York City.
- In 2009, a 56-year-old woman was carjacked by a knife-wielding Hillside man who forced his way into a car and demanded her dough.
- Back in 2006, a gun-toting crook robbed two women outside of a mall restaurant of their 2004 Jeep Liberty.
- And in 2002, a carjacker made off with a 76-year-old woman’s Cadillac from the parking lot near the Saks Fifth Avenue store.
Last month, the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., was terrorized by a troubled pizza deliveryman with a death wish who killed himself with a high-powered rifle before cops closed in.