Every shopper’s worst nightmare played out in an upscale New Jersey mall over the weekend, turning the joyful Christmas season to ashes for the family of a pair of young lawyers who will gather Wednesday for a funeral.
Carjackers approached Dustin Friedland and his wife, Jamie, in the parking area at the Mall at Short Hills and opened fire. Dustin was gravely wounded and left to die by his assailants, who drove off in his late-model silver Range Rover which was recovered nearby in Newark – a scant 15 minutes away by vehicle but more than a lifetime away in wealth.
Jamie Friedland was uninjured.
Authorities are still searching for suspects, but for the family of the slain lawyer, the pain quickly turned to a call for vengeance.
“What do I want? I want the punks responsible to pay,” said Dr. Mark Schare, the uncle of Dustin Friedland. “I want them to die. I want them to get what they gave.”
Schare’s comments came in a statement published Wednesday on the ABC News website.
“I don’t want to hear about how difficult they had it growing up,” he said. “I don’t want to hear about gun laws, that dilutes this atrocity. I don’t want to hear about how difficult they had it growing up, that dilutes the selfishness of their crime. And I don’t want to hear how we need to show them compassion, that dilutes the fact that they committed MURDER.”
Friedland’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.
Newark has a reputation as the nation’s car-theft capital, and a $50,000 Range Rover in an upscale shopping area might appeal as a target of opportunity to some in Essex County, which includes Newark and several wealthy suburbs. Authorities created a local and federal task force three years ago to fight the carjacking crimes that included the heist of a snowplow two days after a Christmas blizzard.
The number of carjackings initially dropped but rose sharply to about 416 in 2010. As of July 31, officials had recorded almost 300 carjackings, authorities told reporters.
According to officials, the Freidlands were returning to their vehicle, parking on the mall’s second level about 9 p.m. on Sunday. Friedland opened the car door for his wife and went to the driver’s side of the car where he was confronted by two men who are believed to have entered the area in a green sports utility vehicle seen on a surveillance camera.
Several shots were fired, from what investigators believe was a handgun. One shot hit Friedland, who died later in the hospital.
One of the assailants entered the vehicle and ordered Jamie Friedland out of the car. Then both cars sped away from the mall. The Range Rover was recovered Monday morning in Newark.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Crime Stoppers program has offered a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects.