State Attorney Melissa Nelson announces the indictment of Shanna Gardner-Fernandez.State Attorney Melissa Nelson announces the indictment of Shanna Gardner-Fernandez.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson announces the indictment of Shanna Gardner-Fernandez in August of 2023. | Dan Scanlan

Ex-wife indicted in Jared Bridegan’s ambush killing

Published on August 17, 2023 at 2:49 pm

The former wife of Jacksonville Beach businessman Jared Bridegan, shot dead as he drove his young daughter home in February 2022, has been indicted in his ambush.

A grand jury indicted Shanna Gardner-Fernandez early Thursday on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder and child abuse, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said at a news conference.

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Gardner’s indictment came five months after 34-year-old Mario Enrique Fernandez Saldana, Gardner’s current husband, was indicted in the murder.

Fernandez also was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse. The last charge stems from the suspects putting Bridegan’s young daughter “directly in harm’s way when her father was shot and killed in front of her,” Nelson said.

The suspected gunman, Henry Arthur Tenon, 61, pleaded guilty in March to committing the murder and agreed to testify against others. He once lived in a home that Saldana owned. He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder with a weapon, accessory after the fact to a capital felony and child abuse.

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“This investigation has uncovered the truth of Jared’s murder,” Nelson said. “Henry Tenon did not act alone. Mario Fernandez did not plan alone. And Shannon Gardner’s indictment acknowledges her central and key role in the cold, calculated and premeditated murder of Jared Bridegan.”

Jared Bridegan's widow, Kirsten Bridegan (center) speaks about the second arrest at a Thursday news conference, flanked by family in the State Attorney's Office.
Jared Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten Bridegan, speaks about the case at a news conference in March, surrounded by family. | Dan Scanlan WJCT News 89.9

Moments after Nelson’s announcement, Bridegan’s widow said she and her family have waited 547 days for this day to come, and she thanked law enforcement for their work.

“Shannon’s arrest ends one horrific chapter of our pursuit for justice for Jared. Now we open a new one,” Kirsten Bridegan told reporters emotionally. “This next chapter will be excruciating. But we are confident in the ability of the State Attorney’s Office and law enforcement to bring truth to light, to see justice carried out to the fullest extent of the law.”

Jared Bridegan’s brother, Adam, also thanked law enforcement as he spoke to his late sibling, saying the family “should not be here today.”

“You should be making us laugh and spending time with your family,” Adam Bridegan said. “Your siblings miss you every day. There is a pain in our hearts that will never go away. Your parents miss you. Your wife misses you. Your children miss you.”

A memorial has been placed where Jared Bridegan, a father of four, was gunned down in a Jacksonville Beach neighborhood.
A memorial has been placed where Jared Bridegan, a father of four, was gunned down in a Jacksonville Beach neighborhood. News4Jax

Bridegan was driving Feb. 16, 2022, with his now 3-year-old daughter in a car seat when he stopped to remove a tire from the road near the exit of The Sanctuary neighborhood, police said. This was the regular road he took when visiting his twin 10-year-old son and daughter.

As he exited his vehicle, Bridegan was shot multiple times as his young daughter watched from inside the truck, police said. During a news conference about Tenon’s arrest, police called it “a planned and target ambush and murder.”

Security video from nearby homes and businesses showed a dark-colored Ford F-150 leaving the area. Police also determined that the discarded tire and wheel belonged to a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Mario Enrique Fernandez Saldana. | Dan Scanlan, WJCT News 89.9

Bridegan, an executive with Microsoft, had a long and bitter divorce with about 300 entries and motions in the court file, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Attention quickly swirled around former wife Gardner and her husband. Gardner then hired a prominent defense attorney to fend off the media due to photos of her and her children and implications she was somehow involved with the plot.

Gardner was arrested Thursday morning by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in West Richland, Washington. She will be extradited to face her charges. Nelson said her office will seek the death penalty for Gardner, as it is for Fernandez.

Henry Arthur Tenon, the first suspect arrested. | Dan Scanlan, WJCT News 89.9

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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