Sources: Arrest imminent in unsolved murder of Jared Bridegan

Ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, moved across country, sources confirm

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Three law enforcement sources on Monday night confirmed to News4JAX that there has been a major development in the 2022 murder investigation of Jared Bridegan, a father of four children who was fatally shot in Jacksonville Beach.

Those sources each confirmed that an arrest related to the case will be made and announced on Wednesday.

News4JAX requested comment from the State Attorney’s Office and Jacksonville Beach Police Department. Supervisors from both offices said they could not comment on the matter.

Jared Bridegan, 33, was shot several times at close range as his 2 1/2-year-old-year-old daughter was in the backseat of his SUV around 8 p.m. Feb. 16 near the Sanctuary neighborhood in south Jacksonville Beach.

The unsolved murder case and the question of “why” still haunts the Jacksonville Beach community and Bridegan’s family.

RELATED: 6 months later: Jared Bridegan’s unsolved murder haunts family, Jax Beach community

The murder of Jared Bridegan has gotten national attention, as police believe it was a planned and targeted attack.

Detectives suspect someone set up Bridegan, who had just dropped his two older children off at their mother’s home in Jacksonville Beach and was returning home to St. Johns County on the night of the deadly shooting.

Sources confirm to the I-TEAM that the children’s mother -- Jared Bridegan’s ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez -- moved across the country to Benton County, Washington. She and her husband, Mario, left their Jacksonville Beach home months after the shooting. She has custody of the older children.

A search of property records shows the home was put on the market in October 2022, but the listing was removed in January 2023.

Despite public scrutiny, Gardner-Fernandez has maintained her innocence.

Hank Coxe, a high-profile Jacksonville attorney representing Gardner-Fernandez, told the I-TEAM Monday night that he had no more information about the development in the case besides what’s been reported.

According to detectives, Bridegan was driving along a dark stretch in between the Sanctuary neighborhood and J. Turner Butler Boulevard when he stopped because of a tire in the road, and as he stepped out, someone ambushed him and shot him multiple times. Detectives believe the tire was likely planted in the road.

Investigators processed the tire, sent bullet casings to a ballistics lab and have been looking for a 2004 to 2008 blue Ford F-150 pickup truck seen in the area around 8 p.m. — when the shooting happened.

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

There’s 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.

“This was such a heinous crime,” Bridegan’s older brother, Adam, told News4JAX previously. “I mean, the amount of times he was shot, just to ensure that he was dead, that he wasn’t going to be able to recover, and all of us in our family are just devastated.”

Wondering who killed her husband keeps Jared Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten, up at night.

“I mean, I have my thoughts but those aren’t important,” she told News4JAX last August. “What is important is the detectives finding evidence and finding clear answers to who did this.”

About the Authors:

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

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.