Top Headlines: Here are the biggest stories covered by Action News Jax in 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The year 2023 was especially busy for news across Jacksonville and all of Northeast Florida.


From the historic mayoral election to major court cases gaining national attention to the unveiling of major plans to renovate Everbank Stadium, Action News Jax broke down some of the biggest local stories this year.

In late January, authorities announced the first of 3 arrests linked to the murder of Jared Bridegan, a local father ambushed and gunned down in front of his 2-year-old daughter the previous February.

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But, the arrest of Henry Tenon was just the start of a local case making national headlines. In March, law enforcement arrested Mario Fernandez Saldana, the husband of Bridegan’s ex-wife in connection with the plot to kill him, and finally, in August, Bridegan’s ex-wife, Shanna Gardner, was arrested in Washington state.

Gardner was later extradited and brought back to Duval County in October. Tenon has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors who have charged Gardner and Saldana with murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Read: Jared Bridegan murder: JSO releases mugshot of ex-wife Shanna Gardner after her extradition to Jax

Last January brought brighter news for Jags fans when the team rallied for a dramatic comeback win over the Chargers. The Jags’ successful run last year set high expectations for this season.

In February, Aiden Fucci pleaded guilty to the murder of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey. The St. Johns County teen was stabbed 114 times. Her body was discovered on Mother’s Day 2021. Fucci was 14 at the time of the killing. Following his guilty plea, he was sentenced to life in prison.

In May, Fucci’s mother Crystal Smith pleaded no contest to tampering with evidence linked to her son’s case, scrubbing blood from his jeans after the killing. She received a 30-day jail sentence and 5 years of probation.

Read: Aiden Fucci’s mom to change plea in evidence tampering in connection to Tristyn Bailey’s murder

Also in May, Donna Deegan made history by winning Jacksonville’s mayoral election and becoming the city’s first female mayor. Deegan’s win with nearly 52% of the vote was an upset over Republican Daniel Davis. She was sworn into office July 1.

In June, 17-year-old Madison Schemitz, her mother Jacki Roge and Kennedy Armstrong were stabbed outside a Ponte Vedra Beach restaurant. Police said Schemitz’s ex boyfriend Spencer Pearson attacked the girl, her mother and then Armstrong after he ran to help them.

Also in June, the Jaguars announced plans for stadium renovations exceeding $1 billion. The design keeps an open-air stadium but offers weather and shade protection for fans.

In the same month, the Jaguars announced the stadium’s name was changed from TIAA Bank Field to Everbank Stadium.

Read: See the video: Jacksonville Jaguars unveil future stadium design

In August, 3 people were killed in a racially motivated mass shooting at a Jacksonville Dollar General. The victims were Angela Carr, Jerriald Gallion and Anolt “AJ” Laguerre. The shooter was 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, who killed himself after barricading himself in an office.

Family members of the victims have since sued Dollar General, its security company, as well as Palmeter’s estate and parents.

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In mid-December, an unusual overnight storm drenched parts of Northeast Florida with several inches of rain during its typical dry season. The storm also brought high winds but no major damage.

Finally, in late December, Mayor Deegan authorized the removal of a Confederate monument from Springfield Park. The decision brought praise from many in the community, but it also generated backlash from some Republicans, including Councilman Nick Howland, who called it an “abuse of power.”

Deegan said the City Council wasn’t taking action on the monument, and its removal was something she promised during her campaign.

Read: Top 5 Action News Jax online stories as 2023 comes to an end

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