A Florida man was killed in an ‘ambush’ with his toddler in the car. Now, police have arrested his ex-wife’s husband
By Jay Croft, CNN
Jared Bridegan was driving home with his 2-year-old daughter in the back seat when he came upon a tire in the road, police in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, said.
Bridegan, 33, a Microsoft senior design manager, stopped the car and got out to move the obstruction, police said, when he was fatally gunned down in February 2022.
On Thursday, authorities arrested and indicted the husband of Bridegan’s ex-wife in what they call a “planned and targeted ambush and murder.”
Now, Mario Fernandez-Saldana could face the death penalty. He was arrested in Orlando and will be sent back to Jacksonville. As of Friday morning, it was unclear if he had obtained an attorney.
On Thursday, he was arrested and indicted by a Duval County grand jury for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony, and child abuse related to the February 2022 murder.
Prosecutors say Fernandez-Saldana, 34, “was integral to the solicitation, conspiracy, and murder of Bridegan.”
They say they were led to him by another suspect in the case, whom Fernandez-Saldana solicited to commit the crime and who admitted pulling the trigger, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said at a news conference Thursday. That man had just pleaded guilty to his role in Bridegan’s killing.
After Fernandez-Saldana was arrested, Bridegan’s widow spoke at the same news conference Thursday.
“We have fought hard for the truth and the world now knows what we have known all along, that Jared truly was an innocent victim,” Kirsten Bridegan said. “We’re also still angry — angry that they were walking free while we were grappling with the reality that Jared wouldn’t be here for any future memories, vacations or tender moments with our kids.”
Child found with no physical injuries
According to Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Paul Smith, Bridegan had a weekly dinner with his twins, then 9, who are his children with his ex-wife, and his 2-year-old daughter, one of two young children with his second wife.
Bridegan had dropped off the twins at their mother’s home and was driving with his 2-year-old to his home when he came across the tire, according to the affidavit. Police believe the tire was purposefully placed there to make him stop.
Bridegan got out of the car to move the tire when he was “gunned down in cold blood,” Smith said. Nothing was taken from the vehicle and the 2-year-old was left in her car seat without physical injuries.
“This was a planned and targeted ambush and murder,” Smith said announcing the first arrest in the case this January.
That’s when police arrested and charged Henry Tenon, 62, with conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder with a weapon, accessory after the act of a capital felony, and child abuse, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said then.
Jail records show Tenon had been in the custody of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office since August 2022 on unrelated charges.
Tenon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a weapon and agreed to “testify truthfully against any accomplice” immediately before Fernandez-Saldana was arrested, the state attorney’s office said.
The affidavit in the case says Tenon was a tenant in a home owned by Fernandez-Saldana. Investigators found three checks Fernandez-Saldana wrote to Tenon in October 2022. Phone records show the men had more than 60 phone contacts with each other.
The affidavit says Bridegan had a “highly acrimonious divorce” and a “contentious relationship” with his ex-wife and her second husband. But authorities did not disclose a possible motive.
Tenon’s attorney declined to comment.
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CNN’s Jennifer Henderson, Rebekah Riess and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.