JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — The ex-wife of a Florida Microsoft executive who died in an ambush shooting last year has been charged in connection to his death.
On Thursday, Aug. 17, the Jacksonville Beach Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office announced Shanna Gardner-Fernandez was indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder, and child abuse in connection to the shooting death of Jared Bridegan.
“From very, very early on, everything in my body and soul told me she was behind it,” Kristen Bridegan, Jared Bridegan’s wife, said during a news conference.
After the death of Jared Bridegan, Gardner-Fernandez said she was not involved in his death.
On Feb. 16, 2022, Jared Bridegan, a Utah Valley University graduate, was shot several times when he exited his SUV to remove a tire from the road in Jacksonville Beach. His toddler-aged daughter was sitting in the back seat and was not hurt during the incident.
His ex-wife, Gardner-Fernandez, was long believed to be a suspect in the case after her current husband, Mario Fernandez-Saldana, was charged in connection to the shooting death, according to WTLV. He was charged with first-degree murder with a weapon, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony, and child abuse.
Mario Fernandez-Saldana’s attorney, Jesse Dreicer, told the Associated Press in an email that his client has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent. “We are dedicated to his defense and are optimistic that when all of the facts are made available our client will be exonerated,” he wrote.
Prosecutors believe Gardner-Fernandez and Fernandez-Saldana allegedly cooked up a plan to have her ex-husband murdered, and the tire was intentionally placed in the roadway to lure Bridegan out of his car.
Fernandez-Saldana was accused of writing checks to Henry Tenon, 62, the man accused of shooting Bridegan. Tenon confessed to police earlier this year and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He reportedly agreed to testify against Fernandez Saldana and Gardner, according to State Attorney Melissa Nelson who spoke at the conference.
Shortly after the arrest of Fernandez-Saldana, the family released a statement through their company, Stampin’ Up!, which was founded by Gardner-Fernandez’s parents. In the statement, the family said it was aware of Fernandez-Saldana’s arrest but that he and Gardner-Fernandez had been separated for “an extended period of time.”
Gardner-Fernandez was arrested by ATF agents in Washington and is awaiting extradition to Duval County, Fla.
Gardner-Fernandez’s parents, Shelli and Sterling Gardner, released a statement on Thursday following her arrest:
“Words cannot accurately express the depth of our sadness. Family is our top priority. We love our daughter and are focused on supporting her and our entire family as we help our grandchildren navigate this difficult and very confusing time. For their sake and all involved, we caution against further speculation and request privacy as the legal process runs its course. In the meantime, we are thankful for the continued support, thoughtfulness and prayers being so generously shared by friends and loved ones.”Shelli and Sterling Gardner.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.