Second suspect arrested in murder of Jacksonville Beach businessman

Another suspect has been arrested in the brutal February 2022 ambush of Jacksonville Beach father Jared Bridegan in front of his young daughter.

The 34-year-old suspect, Mario Enrique Fernandez Saldana, is the current husband of Bridegan’s ex-wife. The first suspect, Henry Arthur Tenon, 61, pleaded guilty on Thursday to having committed the murder. He most recently lived in a home that Saldana once owned.

Flanked by Bridegan’s widow, sister and brother as well as State Attorney Melissa Nelson, Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Smith said investigators spent 13 months working into Bridegan’s “cold-blooded” killing to reach this point. Then Nelson confirmed that the only connection between the victim, Bridegan, and Tenon, the first suspect, was Saldana — who is married to Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, Bridegan’s ex-wife.

Nelson said Tenon has “admitted that he was in fact the shooter.”

“As part of Tenon’s plea agreement with the State of Florida, he has agreed to testify truthfully against those he worked with to murder Jared Bridegan,” Nelson said. “As I said in our last update, we know that Henry Tenon did not act alone. And Tenon has confirmed that this is true. Tenon’s cooperation has both corroborated evidence gathered during the investigation and provided additional evidence against Saldana in his role in the planning and execution of Jared’s murder.”

Jared Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten Bridegan, speaks about the second arrest at a news conference Thursday, flanked by family at the State Attorney’s Office.

An emotional Kirsten Bridegan said she and her family are feeling “a lot of emotion” at the news of the second arrest.

“We are very relieved to know that two of the people behind my husband’s murder are behind bars and no longer a threat to our family. We are also still angry – angry that they went free while we were struggling with the reality that Hared would” don’t be here,” she said.

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“We have fought hard for the truth and the world knows what we have known all along, that Jared was indeed an innocent victim,” she said. “Since Day 1, those in charge of the investigation promised us that they would be relentless in their pursuit of accountability and justice, and they have been.”

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

The night of the murder

On Feb. 16, 2022, Bridegan was driving with his now 3-year-old daughter in a car seat when he stopped to remove a tire from the road near the exit from The Sanctuary area, police said. This was the usual route he took when making scheduled visits to his twin 10-year-old son and daughter.

But when he got out of the vehicle, Bridegan was shot multiple times as his young daughter watched from inside the car, police said. During the press conference on Tenon’s arrest in January, Smith called it “a planned and targeted ambush and murder.”

Security video from nearby homes and businesses showed a dark-colored Ford F-150 with tan or brown running boards, likely a 2004 to 2008 model, leaving the area. Police were looking for information about that truck, which had a silver toolbox in the back.

Bridegan, a Microsoft executive, had a long and bitter divorce with about 300 filings and motions in the lawsuit, according to the Florida Times-Union. Attention quickly swirled around ex-wife Gardner-Fernandez and Saldana, her husband. Gardner-Fernandez then hired a prominent defense attorney to fend off the media because of photos of her and her children at a local park and the implications that she was somehow involved in the plot, the Times-Union said.

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“My kids are 10. They understand everything that’s going on,” she told the Times-Union in June. “They see this and they are scared, terrified and struggling.”


Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office


Henry Arthur Tenon, the first suspect arrested.

Arrest and then arrest

Tenon was originally charged in January with conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder with a weapon, subsequent accessory to a principal felony and child abuse, Nelson said. Then some online research tools listed the 5200 block of Potomac Avenue as his home, which property records show the ex-wife’s husband owned from 2017 to October 2022, the Times-Union reported. On Thursday, Nelson confirmed that Tenon was a former tenant of Saldana’s.

Saldana was booked into the Orange County Jail Thursday after Jacksonville Beach police joined ATF agents and Orange County sheriff’s deputies in his arrest, and he will be extradited to Jacksonville, Nelson said. His warrant was issued shortly after Tenon pleaded guilty to Bridegan’s murder. That was followed by a Duval County grand jury returning a first-degree murder indictment against Saldana, Nelson said.

Mario Enrique Fernandez Saldana.

Saldana’s indictment also includes charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse. The latest charge is because Bridegan’s young daughter was “in immediate danger when her father was shot and killed in front of her” while she was in the vehicle, Nelson said. That manslaughter charge is punishable by death or life in prison, Nelson said.

Saldana’s arrest warrant details the fatal shooting on Sanctuary Boulevard, describing it as a “targeted killing.” It describes how Bridegan got the tire in the way and opened the door to move it. It says the tyre, which was not seen by nearby security cameras until just before he drove up, was put there “to cause Bridegan to stop his vehicle”.

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The warrant also says the discarded tire and wheel belonged to a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup, which police had been searching for. But much of the warrant is blacked out, other than to say that the link between Bridegan and Tenon was Saldana.

The investigation continues

Nelson would not talk about a motive or any additional arrests that may occur, saying nothing more will be released as Tenon provides more information about the case.

“Our investigation remains active and ongoing, and it has not stopped today with the arrest,” Nelson said. “We are all committed to seeking the truth, and that is the whole truth, and holding accountable every single person involved in the murder.”

Kirsten Bridegan said she hopes it will all end one day.

“Justice for Jared will not be stopped and we will not be silenced,” she said. “We know there is still a long way to go before all those responsible are truly held accountable. But today is a very important day for our family.”

Anyone with additional information in the case can contact the Jacksonville Beach Police Department at (904) 270-1661, First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-8477 (TIPS) or ATF at [email protected]

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