The family and friends of Dustin J. Friedland clung to him just a second longer, holding onto his casket as it slid into the hearse, embracing each other in endless tearful hugs as the body of a once-promising life moved from one journey to the next at his funeral procession.
The Beth Am Shalom temple was filled to capacity with mourners grieving the loss of Friedland, a 30-year-old Toms River native who was shot to death Sunday night during a carjacking at the Mall at Short Hills.
During the emotional service, Friedland’s wife, Jamie, told mourners that she could not have asked for a better and more loving husband, according to an account by Associated Press.
When the couple had a prewedding meeting with the rabbi who would marry them, the rabbi told them that once wed, they would become “one person,” she said. Her husband took that view to heart, often reminding her that “we are one person” and that he would always be by her side.
“He wasn’t here (with us) long enough, but he did so much while he was,” she said while fighting tears and tightly gripping the lectern. “I was lucky to be with him for his forever.”
The mourners heard Friedland’s wife, his younger siblings and others recall him as man of integrity, a person whose ethics and values were never muddled. They joked about his warmth, his fondness for food, family and friends and his chivalry, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, a reward for the capture of the people responsible for his death has grown to more than $40,000.
Friedland lived with his wife in Hoboken. He was raised in Toms River, where he was a star athlete and academic achiever at Toms River High School North. He went on to become an attorney and worked for his family’s company in Neptune.
The services at the Route 70 temple started at 11 a.m. and lasted for almost two hours before proceeding to the Toms River Jewish Cemetery on Whitty Road. The funeral procession stretched for miles, with police escorts provided by Toms River and Lakewood police departments.
Parking for the Temple Beth Am Shalom spanned for almost a quarter mile down roads into the Lakewood industrial park.
A parade of mourners walked to the temple, some supporting each other with arms around each other or holding hands, many wiping tears.
There was a heavy police presence to help assure the family’s privacy before the ceremony and while traveling to the burial site in Toms River.
The procession went on for miles down Route 70 toward the Toms River cemetery for a private burial.
Friedland was slain Sunday night at the Mall at Short Hills by a carjacker who struggled with Friedland before shooting him. Friedland had just opened the door for his wife, who was inside the Range Rover when Friedland was approached from behind the vehicle and struggled with the attacker. After multiple shots were fired, and Friedland’s wife got out of the car, two men took off in the sports-utility vehicle, which was abandoned in Newark a short time later.
The murder has sparked an outpouring of donations to support the capture and arrest of the assailants. The Taubman Company, which owns the Mall as Short Hills, has offered a $20,000 reward and Crime Stoppers of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office also offered $20,000. The Morris County Crimestoppers also has pledged $1,000, and the donations continue to grow.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura announced that the Crimestoppers reward offer, which started at $10,000, has been increased to up to $20,000 due to contributions from private anonymous sources.
Persons with information about the crime are urged to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force at 877-847-7432. All calls to law enforcement will be kept confidential.