SHORT HILLS, N.J. An evening of shopping ended in horror for a New Jersey couple when the husband was shot to death in a mall parking garage as his wife looked on and the two assailants then drove off in their luxury SUV.
The vehicle stolen Sunday, a silver Range Rover, was recovered Monday morning in a residential neighborhood in Newark, about 10 miles away from the Mall at Short Hills. The two carjackers were at large, and a local anti-crime group was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.
Killed in the attack was 30-year-old Dustin Friedland, a lawyer from Hoboken who had worked recently at his family’s HVAC company analyzing construction-related legal claims, according to his LinkedIn profile. Friedland’s wife, Jamie Schare Friedland, is listed as an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law at a firm in New York City. Both attended law school at Syracuse University, according to their online profiles.
A woman who answered the phone at Epic Mechanical in Neptune, N.J., declined to comment and said Friedland’s father, who also works there, was not in the office. No one answered at several phone numbers listed for other relatives.
Mall general manager Michael McAvinue said in an email Monday: “We were shocked and saddened by the incident that took place last night at Short Hills. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families involved. Our shopping center is working closely with local law enforcement to support their efforts with this tragic incident.”
On Monday afternoon, the mall, home to such upscale stores as Neiman Marcus and Gucci, was doing a brisk business with the parking garage close to full. Shopper Scott Rockoff, of Basking Ridge, said he had just heard about the carjacking and it wouldn’t affect his decision to come to the mall.
“It can happen anywhere,” Rockoff, 55, said. “You can’t just stay home; you have to go out. But you do need to be a little more aware of your surroundings.”
Sunday’s encounter was the latest in a troubling pattern in Essex County, whose borders encompass crime-plagued Newark to the east as well as Short Hills and other affluent suburbs to the west. Carjackings have risen steeply in the past several years, leading local authorities to create a multi-agency task force three years ago after a spate of crimes that included brazen daytime attacks and the carjacking of a snowplow two days after a Christmas blizzard.
The partnership succeeded in arresting and prosecuting three groups responsible for most of the carjackings, and the crime rate fell temporarily. Since then, it has ticked up, with 416 last year in Essex County, a 44 percent increase from 2010.
Nearly 300 carjackings were reported through July 31 of this year, according to the county prosecutor’s office. In August, authorities announced a program that uses billboards to display mug shots of convicted carjackers next to the number of years they are serving in federal prison.
Short Hills Mall shooting victim Dustin Friedland enjoyed running; trained with Hoboken club
Dustin Friedland was an athlete in high school, swimming competitively for Toms River High School North.
While attending law school at Syracuse University, he would run, once entering the 10-mile Dunn Tire Mountain Goat Run — not with an especially fast time, but finishing at a sub-8 minute pace.
And when he moved to Hoboken, he joined the local running club, the Hoboken Harriers.
“He fit right in. He was very outgoing,” said Frank Magaletta, a Montclair attorney who ran with Friedland. “He was a real decent guy. He could talk to anybody.”
Friedland, 30, was shot and killed Sunday night at the Mall in Short Hills in what authorities are describing as a carjacking gone bad. According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s office, he and his wife had gone to the mall to do some shopping and were heading back to their car on the second floor of a mall parking deck shortly after 9 p.m. when they were attacked by two unidentified assailants. Two shots were fired and Friedland was hit in the head.
Their car, a 2012 silver Range Rover, was taken, and recovered earlier today behind a vacant house in Newark’s South Ward, just a few blocks from Route 78, about eight miles east of the mall.
Friedland was declared dead later at Morristown Memorial Hospital. His wife, Jamie Schare, was not injured.
Magaletta said Friedland had only recently joined the club.
“He had not raced. He was gearing up to get fit,” said Magaletta, a long-time Harrier runner who knows most of its members. He learned of the shooting earlier this morning on the radio, and then immediately recognized Friedland’s name when it was released.
“I said, ‘Oh God, please tell me it’s not him,” he said.
The club, known as HoHa, organized training runs during the week and on weekends. Friedland ran with them on Thursday nights, often ending at a local bar like Moran’s Pub on Garden Street to socialize afterward.
Magaletta said Friedland struck up conversations with everybody.
“We all knew he was a lawyer. Even though he was a relatively new member, he fit right in,” he recalled.
According to a LinkedIn social media profile, Friedland was a project manager who analyzed legal claims at a Neptune contracting firm, Epic Mechanical Inc., which is owned by his father, Wayne. Records show the Range Rover was registered to the company.
Friedland and his wife, who apparently met each other in Syracuse, were married in October 2011. The couple had no children.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Crime Stoppers program is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the two suspects. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at (877) 847-7432