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Jacksonville Beach ex-wife of slain Bridegan speaks out: 'I want people to know where I am coming from'

Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, 35, had not publicly commented about Jared Bridegan or his Feb. 16 death until this week.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The day after was all about distraction.

Shanna Gardner-Fernandez's ex-husband Jared Bridegan had been shot and killed in Jacksonville Beach. She sat down their 10-year-old twins and gently told them what had happened. Her daughter was shocked and quiet, her son sobbed.

Then "Yes Day" began.

Gardner-Fernandez asked them what they wanted to do. Her son had long craved a drum set, so they went to a music store to get him a starter drum pad. He and his sister explored the store, trying out guitars and other musical instruments, as a staffer told their mother how the drum pad worked.

They were moments to dull the pain.

Then they went out to lunch, although no one really wanted to eat.

No suspects identified in killing

Gardner-Fernandez, 35, had not publicly commented about Bridegan or his Feb. 16 death until this week.

She said she stayed quiet out of respect for his current wife, Kirsten Bridegan of St. Augustine, who has two children of her own with him, and their family. They had asked her not to comment in the media, she said.

"I feel for Jared's family and what they are going through. I can't even imagine," she said. "I have tried to be respectful. I have tried to give them space."

Initially, Gardner-Fernandez was fine with that.

"There has been so much attention surrounding the murder. I have been trying to focus on the kids," she said.

But ongoing, sensationalistic and often inaccurate media coverage — including what Gardner-Fernandez considered invasive photos of her and her children enjoying a local park and implications that she was involved in the shooting — frightened her and the twins. Her friends and family also were being harassed and their businesses threatened, she said.

"It is becoming necessary to respond," she said. "I didn't want it to make a spectacle. I want people to know where I am coming from."

Bridegan, who would have turned 34 on June 29, was killed between 7:15 and 8 p.m. in a wooded area near the exit of The Sanctuary neighborhood. He had just dropped off the twins at Gardner-Fernandez's residence, the Jacksonville Beach Police Department said.  

The story above is a portion or a larger, exclusive piece from our news partners at the Florida Times-Union. 

To read the full story from The Florida Times-Union, click here.

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