The previously dark and wooded stretch of Jacksonville Beach where father of four Jared Bridegan was murdered in February 2022 now has bright streetlights to make it safer.
Police said someone shot and killed Bridegan, 33, on Sanctuary Boulevard just before the road feeds into J. Turner Butler Boulevard after he stopped to remove a tire in the street. Detectives said the tire was intentionally left there and set up the ambush where someone shot and killed him at close range, with his toddler in the backseat of his SUV.
Sanctuary Boulevard is one of the most secluded parts of an otherwise populated Jacksonville Beach. The road splits down the middle and is surrounded by tall trees on both sides.
Bridegan’s ex-wife Shanna Gardner, her estranged husband Mario Fernandez, and Fernandez’s tenant Henry Tenon have all been charged with conspiracy and murder. Tenon pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder and is awaiting sentencing of at least 15 years behind bars. Gardner and Fernandez have pleaded not guilty and face the death penalty if convicted.
After the murder, Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten, petitioned the city to make the dark road safer.
“I couldn’t help but feel that if that road had been lit, perhaps Jared would have seen something to warn him of what he was driving into,” she said.
This week, Beaches Energy crews installed three streetlights and repaired another. The city council and mayor approved the installation, which came from the city budget.
Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman told News4JAX the upgrades were in response to Kirsten Bridegan’s request.
“Unfortunately, this was born from tragedy but it should help improve safety for the whole area,” she said, noting city leaders agreed unanimously.
“The lights would be to both honor him and his memory as well as to provide better safety and protection for all current and future travelers down that road,” Kirsten said.
Bridegan also started the nonprofit Bridegan Foundation to provide Bexley boxes to police stations and sheriff’s offices. The boxes, named after Jared’s daughter Bexley who was in the SUV at the time of the shooting, provide snacks, toys, and care items to children who are taken to police stations, often in traumatic circumstances. The Jacksonville Beach Police Department, where officers took Bexley, was the first to receive a Bexley Box.