Jacksonville Beach police to announce major development Wednesday in murder of Jared Bridegan

Sources say an arrest in the case is imminent

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Police told News4JAX that they will release details Wednesday about where the investigation into the murder of a father of four in Jacksonville Beach stands.

Jacksonville Beach Police Department Chief Gene Paul Smith and State Attorney Melissa Nelson will hold a news conference at noon. In a news release, the Police Department said “a significant development” will be announced.

The briefing comes just weeks shy of the one-year mark of the killing of 33-year-old Jared Bridegan.

News4JAX reported Tuesday night that an arrest is imminent, after the I-TEAM received information from three different law enforcement sources.

While the details are vague, but sources told News4JAX to trust the process, as detectives have worked this case around the clock for more than 11 months now, and on Wednesday, the public should have more answers about where the investigation stands.

The Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office have worked the case since the beginning on the night of Feb. 16 when someone shot and killed the Microsoft manager on a dark stretch near the Sanctuary neighborhood

According to detectives, he was shot at close range several times after he stopped to move a tire out of the road. That tire, investigators believe, was part of the setup.

Bridegan’s 2 ½-year-old daughter was in the backseat of his sport utility vehicle She wasn’t hurt. Bridegan’s wife, Kirsten, has been vocal to the I-TEAM about her family’s pain, begging for someone to come forward with answers to help police solve the case.

“I rack my brain, I stay up all night long thinking, ‘Why? Was there any hint this was coming?’ There was none,” Kirsten Bridegan said in March.

Jared Bridegan had just left the home of his ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, the night of the ambush. He dropped off the twins he shared with her, and then the attack occurred just miles away as he headed to his home in St. Johns County.

There’s been a lot of public interest in Gardner-Fernandez and her second husband, Mario. She has proclaimed her innocence in interviews with other outlets.

According to sources, Gardner-Fernandez moved with her children across the country to Benton County, Washington, where her family has a home.

A report from Fox News states she was spotted there Monday—hours before News4JAX reported on the major development. She had no comment.

All the while, investigators have been asking for information about a dark blue older 2004 to 2008 Ford F-150 pickup truck, which they believe was involved in the murder.

Truck Jacksonville Beach police are looking for in investigation of Jared Bridegan (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Police have said many times solving the case is a top priority.

“Due to hundreds of tips that we received from citizens coming in, the detectives have to follow up on each and every tip that comes in,” JBPD Sgt. Tonya Tator said in August.

Memories of Jared Bridegan with his children motivate his family in their search for justice. She has told News4JAX that Ja

“I know that if he was here and I wasn’t, he would be fighting for me — also the kids,” Kirsten Bridegan said in August. “I want all four of the kids to know why they don’t have their dad because he was the best dad.

There is a $55,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and prosecution in the killing. 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.

You can watch the news briefing Wednesday live as it happens at noon on New4JAX. You can also see it online at News4JAX.com and streaming on News4JAX+ and our YouTube page.

About the Author:

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