2 more people, including former reserve police officer, ‘likely involved’ in murder-for-hire plot, but not charged

A new batch of evidence obtained by News4JAX on Thursday gives more details surrounding the Jared Bridegan investigation and revealed that police identified a total of five people who were “likely involved” in a murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the death of the father of four.

Bridegan died at the age of 33 after he was ambushed and killed in Jacksonville Beach two years ago.

Bridegan’s ex-wife Shanna Gardner and her estranged husband Mario Fernandez now face first-degree murder charges and the death penalty in the case, and Henry Tenon has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He’s awaiting sentencing and has pledged to testify against Gardner and Fernandez.

MORE: How investigators quickly keyed in on Jared Bridegan’s ex-wife, her husband following ambush murder in Jax Beach

The details found in the 800-page evidence dump mark the first time the alleged conspiracy expanded beyond the three people who are already in custody.

The names of the two other people believed to have been somehow involved in Bridegan’s death were redacted in the documents, but a warrant states that one of the unnamed conspirators was a former reserve police officer who is also a convicted felon. That man was known to own a 10mm handgun and Bridegan was killed with a 10mm handgun, but the murder weapon was never recovered, according to the evidence.

“As I learned more details of what happened to Jared. You know, that there’s a tire, it’s pretty clear that someone knew his route, his schedule. I have felt since the beginning that this was planned. This was thought out and this was specific to Jared,” Kirsten Bridegan, Jared’s widow, said in January 2023.

When investigators interviewed the former reserve officer and asked to see his gun, he said he didn’t know where it was.

The warrant also said a relative of Bridegan told investigators that Gardner had commented about “hiring a hitman to take Bridegan out” back in 2017. The relative said Gardner “hated” Bridegan and was “frustrated by their custody arrangement and their differences in parenting choice.”

Fernandez was quoted as saying “the kids were better off with Bridegan out of the picture.”

The new evidence also showed grainy images captured that night on the dark Jacksonville Beach road where Bridegan was gunned down. One video screenshot shows Tenon walking from the scene of the murder minutes after the shooting, according to investigators.

RELATED: ‘It ain’t looking good’: New evidence shows arrest, calls, interview of triggerman in Jared Bridegan murder

The warrant explains how investigators hoped to take advantage of the announcement of the arrest of Tenon, that it would “trigger communications” among the other suspects that would allow investigators to “discern the role each played in the conspiracy,” and “capture communications of evidentiary value.”

“If you knew Jared, you know he would not give up. He would not give up until our family gets justice,” Adam Bridegan, Jared’s brother, said in August 2023.

MORE: Wiretap, phone searches among key evidence in Jared Bridegan murder investigation

Investigators noted that the remaining targets were trying to obstruct the investigation with false and misleading statements. They noted that both Fernandez and Gardner quickly lawyered up. The warrant says there was both electronic and undercover surveillance on them.

Gardner’s attorneys are asking for the court to give her a bond so she can get out of jail while waiting for trial. They’re also asking to remove the 4th Judicial Circuit as prosecutors, citing an accidental privacy breach.

New court filings show Gardner’s attorneys have subpoenaed Walmart for five different store receipts. They’ve also subpoenaed Publix, demanding Gardner’s employment records, including time sheets.

In a separate case, Bridegan’s parents are asking for visitation rights with his oldest twins – who are living with Gardner’s parents in Washington State.

“It’s been incredibly devastating because there’s been that separation,” Ashley Bridegan, Jared’s sister, told News4JAX.

Gardner and Fernandez are expected in Duval County court Friday morning for another pre-trial hearing.

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