Like hunters, they stalked their prey.
Slowly, brazenly, they rode around one of New Jersey’s toniest shopping malls staking out cars and shoppers. They’d drive and then wait. Deliberate. Hidden in plain sight. Prepared to strike on their own schedule.
When carjackers gunned down a 30-year-old lawyer after a night of Christmas shopping 11 months ago, the reaction across the country was horror. Dustin Friedland, 10 days before Christmas, had done nothing more than choose to drive an expensive Ranger Rover – a theft target, police said. For that, his young wife would be widowed.
As shocking as the story was, the actual images from that night at the Mall at Short Hills are simply chilling. Security-camera footage obtained by ABC News this week shows Friedland’s killers were perfectly calm and calculated as they trolled the lots during two separate nights in a large SUV. And then, once the dying Friedland was waiting in vain for an ambulance, the video shows the suspects racing away – followed by Friedland’s own Range Rover that they wanted to snatch.
“It is incredible,” said Bruce Nagel, the lawyer representing Friedland’s widow. “ You see both the perpetrators’ vehicle and my clients’ vehicle, speeding out of the mall. There is nobody there. There is no policeman to stop them.”
“The surveillance videos are chilling,” he said. “On December the 12th, the same car with apparently the same individuals was apparently casing the mall. They actually had a dry run ... On December the 15th, the night in question – the videos are even more chilling. It shows that these individuals in the same exact car as three days earlier were on the property.”
Four men were later arrested and indicted on a list of charges, including murder and carjacking. They’re all in jail awaiting trial and each faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted. The suspects have pleaded not guilty.
Jamie Schare Friedland, who was there when her husband was killed, is suing the mall’s operators and the local ambulance corps for wrongful death. As part of that case, Nagel obtained the mall’s security-camera video, and he shared the footage with ABC News just days after a judge denied the mall’s request to keep the recordings under wraps.
Mrs. Friedland has never spoken publicly about what happened that night.
Mall lawyer Christopher McIntyre issued a statement to ABC News: "While we are unable to comment on pending litigation, we will again reconfirm that the safety of our customers, retailers and employees is the top priority. For decades we have worked with local authorities, including the Millburn Police Department, to protect our guests, and we will continue to employ all available resources this holiday season."
In speaking out for the first time, Nagel said the devastation the Friedland family has suffered needs to be “a wakeup call…the holiday season is coming up. It’s going to be one year on Dec. 15 that this tragic incident occurred, and I want the public to realize that the mall has not changed its ways.”
“If the malls want people to come and spend their money at stores that are located there, they’ve got to make it safe and this case says to them go out and take the steps to make sure your patrons are going to be safe,” Nagel said.