JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The widow and brother of a father of four killed last year in what police believe was a targeted ambush shooting in Jacksonville Beach opened up Thursday to the News4JAX I-TEAM about the arrest in the case and the questions still left in the investigation.
Jared Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten, and his brother, Adam, were at the Jacksonville Beach Police Department headquarters on Wednesday when the law enforcement agency and the state attorney’s office announced Henry Tenon was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder with a weapon, accessory after the fact to a capital felony, and felony child abuse in connection with the killing. Kirsten Bridegan said this is a “huge step” in the right direction, but she and her husband’s brother said the case is far from closed and they need people to come clean with detectives.
“You know, I’ve, as I learned more details of what happened to Jared, you know, that there’s a tire is pretty clear that someone knew his route, his schedule,” Kirsten Bridegan said. “I have felt since the beginning that this was planned, this was thought out, and this was specific to Jared. So I’m not surprised that they announced that Henry Tenon — someone that we have never heard of, that Jared did not know — wasn’t alone in this.”
Jared Bridegan, 33, had just left the home of his ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, the night of the ambush on Feb. 16. 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.
According to detectives, the Microsoft manager was shot at close range several times after he stopped to move a tire out of the road on a dark stretch near the Sanctuary neighborhood. That tire, investigators believe, was part of the setup.
When asked if she believes this is a hit, Kirsten Bridegan said, “I believe it is.”
State Attorney Melissa Nelson said at Wednesday’s announcement, “We know Henry Tenon did not act alone.”
The I-TEAM has uncovered property records linking Tenon to Mario Fernandez, who is married to Bridegan’s ex-wife. At the time of the shooting, Tenon rented a room in the home Fernandez owned.
“I mean, it’s scary, right? It’s frightening, frankly, that there is a connection, and that there’s this mass conspiracy. It does not help us sleep at night. Yeah, mass conspiracy,” Adam Bridegan said.
“Mass conspiracy? Elaborate,” asked I-TEAM reporter Vic Micolucci.
“We don’t know the depths of how large this conspiracy is. But we know that it’s definitely more than one individual, and that these individuals right now are living in freedom and that they’re going about their lives as if nothing ever happened when our world has been destroyed. And that’s painful, ” Adam Bridegan said.
Neither Gardner-Fernandez nor Fernandez have been charged. Nor have they been publicly named as suspects. Gardner-Fernandez has said she had nothing to do with the murder.
Tenon, 61, is a convicted felon who had been in jail in Jacksonville on other unrelated charges. Both Kirsten Bridegan and Adam Bridegan said they had never heard of him before he came up in the investigation.
“Never in our lives,” Adam Bridegan said. “No, I have no idea who this individual is.”
Jared Bridegan’s brother also shared something startling.
“I won’t get into specifics. But I did have several conversations with Jared, where he did express concerns that something like this could happen to him,” Adam Bridegan said. “He did have concerns on his life.”
The past 11 months have been so incredibly painful for the family, grieving his loss while living in fear. His now 3-year-old daughter Bexley, who was in his sport utility vehicle at the time of the shooting, has questions.
“Early on, she talked a lot about the sounds of the gunshots. She even said, you know, ‘Daddy on the ground,’ which makes me believe she saw him there when she was removed from the vehicle,” Kirsten Bridegan said. “And I’m just so grateful that now the conversations when she has some with me are more about ‘dad’s in heaven,’ ‘my daddy died.’ But it’s not as graphic as it had been earlier on.”
Kirsten Bridegan and Adam Bridegan are thankful for all the support they’ve gotten — not just from our community — but from around the world. Even after nearly a year without answers in Jared Bridegan’s death, his loved ones said they had not given up hope.
“There are times here and there that I was concerned. I reached out to law enforcement just to say, ‘Is there anything you can tell me?’ And, you know, they reassured me, ‘Hey, we’re working diligently, like, we are not forgetting Jared,’” Kirsten Bridegan said.
But the family still has a long way to go for justice for Jared Bridegan.
“My message is that we’re still here. It’s almost been a year. We’re not going anywhere. If you are not going to help and be complicit, you will be found and you will be held accountable,” Kirsten Bridegan said. “So now’s your chance to try to make it right in the smallest amount of effort and just speak up.”
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.