JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Tuesday marks six months since the brutal murder of a father of four in Jacksonville Beach.
Someone shot 33-year-old Jared Bridegan several times at close range as his 2-and-a-half year old daughter was in the backseat of his SUV February 16.
Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten, said living without him is unimaginable.
“Sometimes I feel like we are just a spectacle,” she said, noting national and international attention about the case. “People don’t realize that this is our reality every single day. We wake up every day and Jared is still not here. His car is not pulling in the driveway. This is real. Myself, four children and an enormous amount of friends and family are all suffering every single day because of this. This is real.”
She said she was also thankful for the notoriety of the case, hoping it’ll lead to more tips and an arrest for the person or people responsible.
There’s now a $55,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. First Coast Crime Stoppers is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Much of that money was raised privately by the Bridegan family. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, is offering an additional $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
The memories of Jared Bridegan are bittersweet. His wife Kirsten, whom he was married to for four and a half years, shares videos and pictures of the happier times.
“He truly cared about those in his life,” Bridegan said. “He truly cared about trying to be a good human. And he tried every single day to be his best.”
On February 16, 2022, that dream turned into a nightmare. Jared had just dropped his two older children off at their mother’s home in Jacksonville Beach. His two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Bexley was in the backseat as he returned home to St. Johns County. Detectives said he stopped around 8 p.m. on a dark stretch near the Sanctuary neighborhood in South Jacksonville Beach because of a tire in the road. As he stepped out, someone ambushed him, shooting him again and again. Bexley wasn’t hurt.
“I just have this overwhelming sense that it’s going to be figured out,” his widow said. “I have felt that way since early on. There are days when I do lose hope. I’m just frustrated, angry, I don’t want to talk to anybody. But the majority of the time I feel like justice is coming, just be patient.”
This weekend family members noticed the missed milestones. Jared’s widow Kirsten and loved ones celebrated Bexley’s third birthday and their baby London’s first birthday.
Bexley continually asks why her dad died, her mother said. London is learning to walk with her family she’ll never know her father.
Kirsten said Jared’s memory keeps her going.
“I know that if he was here and I wasn’t, that he would be fighting for me,” she said. “Also the kids. I want all four of the kids to know why they don’t have their dad. I want that for them so badly because he was the best dad. So thoughtful, so creative, so fun. They deserve to know why he is no longer here. So that’s why I keep fighting.”
The case has taken twists and turns in the public eye. After News4JAX first broke the story, it’s gotten national and international attention. Television stations, magazines and blogs have all picked up the details of the case. Kirsten also runs and Instagram account called @JusticeforJaredB.
Many outlets have brought up Jared Bridegan’s previous marriage and there’s been speculation surrounding his ex-wife. However, it is important to point out investigators said the case is still wide open. Bridegan’s ex-wife, whom News4JAX has not identified, has also publicly said she wasn’t involved. She later hired well-known Jacksonville attorney Hank Coxe.
He sent a statement to News4JAX in June.
“To be clear, [the ex-wife and her husband] requested my assistance for the purpose of seeing if steps could be taken to protect her young twins from any publicity surrounding this tragic event. The family’s interest in privacy has always been paramount, as difficult as it seems to be. As for any other reason for the family to have or need counsel, whether it be myself or anyone else, there is none.”
Investigators have not publicly released details about who is responsible.
“I can’t comment on suspects or people of interest,” Jacksonville Beach police Sgt. Tanya Tator said. “With hundreds of tips that have come in, the detectives have to follow up on each one. We can’t pick and choose, and if you can imagine going over hundreds and hundreds of tips that takes a bit.”
Police are still looking for information about a 2004 to 2008 blue Ford F-150 pickup truck which they believe was involved in the shooting.
“Unfortunately when a heinous crime happens, it takes a lot longer to work the investigation than it does to commit the crime,” Tator added. “It’s taking the detectives longer because we’re going to do it the proper way.”
Jared’s widow is trying to be patient. She pointed out she prays for the police working the case every day with faith they get what they need to solve the case.
Until then, his memories will live on through his children.
“We have family in the area, amazing friends, extremely generous and kind neighbors,” she said with tears in her eyes. “And strangers. The support has been incredible. I’m so grateful for everyone that has been supporting and loving us.”
Acts of kindness that keep this grieving family going.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477). Tipsters may remain anonymous. To submit a tip to ATF, call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (283-8477).