Father of 4 targeted in close-range Jacksonville Beach murder, police say

Reward for information leading to arrest now increased to $8K

Reward for information leading to arrest now increased to $8K

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A murder in Jacksonville Beach remains a mystery as police are begging for help finding out who killed a 33-year-old father of four.

His 2-year-old daughter was in the SUV, which was also struck by gunfire, but wasn’t hurt. An $8,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in his death is now being offered, according to police.

It happened Wednesday just before 8 p.m. on Sanctuary Boulevard near J. Turner Butler Boulevard at the front of a quiet family neighborhood called Lake Sanctuary.

Jacksonville Beach police investigating a homcide are seeking information from this area. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.)

Police identified the man killed as Jared Bridegan, of St. Johns County.

Six days after his slaying, detectives are opening up with News4JAX about the case, hoping to cultivate more tips. They met at the scene of the crime to share new insight into what happened.

RELATED: Jax Beach police make another plea for public’s help after father of 4 killed in front of 2-year-old daughter

For the first time Tuesday, investigators said the shooting was “targeted.”

Det. Sgt. David Young, with the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, said Bridegan was shot to death next to the driver door of his SUV, which was also struck by gunfire. The man’s 2-year-old daughter was inside. He said it’s a miracle she wasn’t hurt.

“Any time there’s a child involved with a child could’ve been hit, it gets to you,” Young said, clearly upset about the details. “It does it gets to you.”

Bridegan had his SUV’s emergency flashers on and a spare tire was in the road, which is why police believe his killer set him up.

Jacksonville Beach police said they do not yet know whether this damaged tire is related to the investigation. (Jacksonville Beach Police Department)

“There is a reason he was stopped here,” Young said. “There’s a reason there’s a tire in the middle of the road. So we think that in that aspect, we think that he was targeted.”

Young said it was close-range and cold-blooded.

“He was right at the driver’s door and we believe that the shooter was less than four feet, three feet from him,” Young said.

While police have picked up patrols in the area, neighbors said that they are living in fear. They are constantly checking for updates. They have children here and they don’t know who the killer is or what the motive was.

There is a team of detectives on the case working through the weekend and around the clock, collecting evidence, tracking down leads. Tips are coming in, but investigators said they need more. They need surveillance video, eyewitness accounts, physical evidence. They said some neighbors have been reluctant to answer their door and speak with police.

“There isn’t a stone that we’re not going to turn, there isn’t a place that we are not going to check,” Young said.

Bridegan was driving a black Volkswagen Atlas dropping off some of his children at their mother’s house nearby. He had two children from a previous marriage and two from his current marriage.

Police want to know if anyone saw him driving and if anyone was following him or if there was an incident before the shooting.

Bridegan, who worked as a software manager for companies including Microsoft, was just feet away from getting onto JTB on his way home to Nocatee.

“It was specific,” Young said. “He used this route all the time. Whoever knew the route.”

He said his goal was to bring Bridegan’s loved ones answers and arrest whoever is responsible for the murder.

“It’s terrible,” he added. “It’s emotional for everybody. It’s emotional for the detectives. It’s emotional to have to look at somebody and say, ‘We’re trying to find the right answers.’”

Detectives acknowledged a lot of speculation and rumors in the neighborhood. However, police are urging people to not jump to conclusions. They said everything and anything is on the table with the investigation.

Anyone with information or home security footage is asked to call the Police Department at 904-270-1661. They can also send anonymous information to First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.