On Thursday, Aug. 17, 4th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Melissa Nelson announced a grand jury returned an indictment charging Shanna Gardner with first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and child abuse in connection with the death of 33-year-old Jared Bridegan.
Nelson said, "We promised at the outset of this investigation we would not relent until we uncovered the truth of Jared’s murder — the whole and entire truth."
ATF agents arrested Gardner in West Richland, Washington, and she will be extradited to Florida. Nelson said her office will file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty if Gardner is convicted.
Gardner's husband, Mario Fernandez-Saldana, was arrested in March also on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony, and child abuse. The State Attorney's Office is also seeking the death penalty against Fernandez-Saldana.
Just before Fernandez-Saldana was indicted, his alleged co-conspirator, Henry Tenon, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to "testify truthfully against any accomplice."
On Feb. 16, 2022, Bridegan had a "date night" dinner with his and Gardner's 9-year-old twins and his 2-year-old daughter from his new marriage. He dropped off the twins at Gardner and Fernandez-Saldana's house, then continued to drive home. He was on a "dark stretch" of Sanctuary Boulevard and saw a tire in the street. When he got out of the car to move the tire, he was gunned down and killed.
The 2-year-old girl, who was still strapped into her car seat, was not harmed. The affidavit, however, says bullets "struck the interior of the vehicle in close proximity to where the child was strapped into her car, an act that reasonably could have been expected to cause physical or mental injury to her."
Jacksonville Beach Police arrested Tenon in January on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder, child abuse, and accessory after the fact. At a press conference announcing the arrest, Chief Gene Smith said Bridegan was "gunned down in cold blood." He called the shooting a "planned and targeted ambush."
According to WJXT-TV, Bridegan's wife, Kirsten Bridegan, said after the indictment announcement, "For 547 days, we hoped and prayed that this day would come. Shanna’s arrest ends one horrific chapter of our pursuit for justice for Jared and now we opened a new one. This next chapter will be excruciating. We are confident in the ability of the State’s Attorney’s Office and law enforcement to bring truth to light we expect to see justice carried out to the fullest extent of the law."