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A devastated widow is asking for the public’s help after her young Microsoft husband was gunned down in front of their 2-year-old daughter in an upscale North Florida suburb.
“It was pure cowardice and malice,” said Kirsten Bridegan, 30, whose husband Jared Bridegan, 33, was mugged in his car on February 16 while their daughter Bexley watched from her car seat. “Having done that where he didn’t even get a chance to fight back and it was done in front of his daughter. I would urge anyone who knows anything to come forward.”
The father of four has nine-year-old twins from a previous marriage. He had dropped the older children off at his ex-wife’s home in Jacksonville Beach just after 7:30 p.m
According to Kirsten and police, he and Bexley were driving south to their St. Augustine home in the family’s black Volkswagen Atlas when they struck a tire in the middle of a one-way street. He got out of his vehicle and was shot, Sgt Tonya Tator told Fox News Digital. Authorities are investigating whether the tire was placed on the street to lure Jared out of his car.
“Jacksonville Beach is a safe community and a murder of this nature is highly unusual,” Tator said of the neighborhood near the Atlantic Ocean and 15 minutes from the famous TPC Sawgrass golf courses, home of the PGA Tour.
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Kirsten was at home with her 7 month old London and was alerted when Jared hadn’t returned.
“He didn’t return my messages or my calls,” she recalled. “I thought he might have been in a car accident. I had a gut feeling something was wrong.”
She got in a car with her mother to look for Jared. As they drove, Kirsten kept calling Jared’s phone — but it wasn’t her husband who finally answered.
“A police officer answered but wouldn’t tell me if he was ok,” she recalled, fighting back tears. “He said, ‘Please come to the Jacksonville Police Department.’ I said to my mother, ‘Jared is not well.’ I just knew it. My whole body, my mind, I knew he wasn’t okay.”
Arriving at the police station, Kirsten hugged Bexley, who was in shock after witnessing her father’s murder. Then a detective took Kirsten aside and told her Jared was dead.
“I started crying, my hands were shaking – I was looking for a rubbish bin because I felt like I was going to throw up. I kept saying, ‘This isn’t real, this can’t be real,'” she said.
Kirsten and Jared
The couple first met online through a dating app and clicked immediately. “The first thing that caught my eye was his profile picture. It showed him with his twins,” she said. Jared drove 6 1/2 hours from Jacksonville to her home in Charlotte, North Carolina to see her on the weekends when he wasn’t with his kids, she said.
About four months later, she moved to Jacksonville and the couple married in 2017.
“He was a good guy through and through,” she said. “Whenever we got into a fight, he was always the first to apologize, even if it was my fault.”
A Jacksonville native, Jared graduated from the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts before earning his college degree from Utah Valley University.
He was working as a user experience manager at Microsoft when he was killed. Kirsten had also worked as an account manager for the software giant, but quit a few months ago to become a full-time mom.
“He was a good neighbor, a good friend, a good colleague,” Kirsten said. “He was a very beloved man.”
Kirsten declined to discuss Jared’s relationship with his ex-wife, but a source told Fox News she was strained. Although invited, Jared’s twins from his previous marriage did not attend their father’s funeral. His ex-wife could not immediately be reached for comment.
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Sergeant Tator urged the public to provide any information that might help them solve Jared’s murder. The Jacksonville Police Department previously released surveillance video stills of a dark-colored Ford F-150, which they described as an “interesting vehicle.”
“Someone out there knows what happened or knows someone who was involved, and we’re asking them to do the right thing,” Tator said.
The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provide local police with resources — including their labs to process forensic evidence.
“We’re waiting for forensic evidence to come back, and when we get that information, we’ll continue our investigation from there,” Tator said. There is a $25,000 reward – authorities have offered $8,000 while private donors have contributed another $17,000.
Anyone with information should contact the Jacksonville Police Department at 904-270-1661 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
Kirsten said the shocking murder took the greatest toll on Bexley.
“She talks a lot about the sound. She says, ‘I had to cover my ears,'” Kirsten said. “When she talks about what happened, she calls it ‘the boom.’ She says: ‘Boom! Boom! Boom! Daddy on the floor.'”
Kirsten said Bexley asks about her father a lot, but she also misses her older siblings, whom she has barely seen since the murder. “I miss her too,” Kirsten said. “Not only did we lose Jared, we lost our family structure.”
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Every night Bexley sleeps with a blanket her father gave her. Kirsten tucked her in and she asked if God had blankets. “I asked her why, and she said, ‘I want daddy to have a blanket in heaven.'”