Jared Bridegan, 33, was shot and killed in front of his toddler on the side of the road in Jacksonville Beach in February 2022.
At a press conference on Wednesday, police announced they arrested Henry Tenon, 61, on suspicion of second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory after the fact and child abuse.
Police said the father of four had dinner with three of his children, then dropped his twins off at his ex-wife’s home. He was on his way back to St. Augustine with their half-sister when he stopped on the side of the road to pick up a tire. Investigators suspect the tire was placed there on purpose to lure Bridegan into an ambush.
He was fatally shot as he stepped out of the vehicle, and his daughter, who was still in the back seat, witnessed the murder, police said.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson said her office was seeking an upgraded first-degree murder charge against Tenon.
Police did not specify a motive or give many details about the evidence they may have uncovered. Nelson said they were sharing limited information about the evidence due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, which is active and ongoing. Tenon’s arrest warrant has been sealed for 30 days.
“We hope to have more answers to provide to you, even if it cannot be today,” Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Paul N. Smith told reporters.
According to First Coast, Tenon rented a property belonging to Mario Fernandez, who is married to Bridegan’s ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez.
As previously reported, Bridegan and his ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, went through a bitter divorce followed by a yearslong custody battle.
In 2015, Gardner-Fernandez reportedly asked a tattoo parlor employee in 2015 if he knew anyone who would “shut … up” her ex-husband. She admitted to making the statement in a 2022 interview with the Florida Times-Union, explaining that people say these things when going through bitter divorces and she denied wanting to harm her ex-husband.
Jail records show Tenon was arrested in August for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, driving while his license was suspended or revoked and unlawful speeding. He remains at the John E. Goode Pre-Trial Detention Facility, where he is being held without bond.
Tenon is due in court Thursday morning. If convicted of the new charges, he could face life in prison.