Pennsylvania Man Detained in Turks and Caicos Over Ammo Possession Returns Home

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
May 25, 2024US News
Pennsylvania Man Detained in Turks and Caicos Over Ammo Possession Returns Home
Bryan Hagerich, who was arrested in Turks and Caicos Islands for carrying ammunition in February, hugs his children at Pittsburgh International Airport after getting a suspended sentence on May. 24, 2024. (AP/Screenshot via NTD)

A Pennsylvania man who was arrested in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) for carrying ammunition in his luggage returned home on Friday after getting a suspended sentence, according to his spokesperson.

Bryan Hagerich, 39, of Pennsylvania, was one of the five Americans arrested on the islands on ammunition possession charges. He was arrested in February when rifle rounds were found in his luggage.

A TCI court issued a suspended sentence of 52 weeks to Mr. Hagerich on Friday and ordered him to pay a $6,700 fine, his spokesperson, Jonathan Franks, stated in an update on X, formerly Twitter.

Mr. Hagerich reportedly arrived at Pittsburg International Airport on Friday following his release.

“Every emotion you can imagine, as a father, as a husband, to be reunited finally after 101 days. … I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders,” he told reporters at the airport.

Mr. Hagerich described his detention as “the darkest days of my life” and thanked the congressional delegation who requested his release and that of other Americans still detained there.

Several lawmakers hailed the TCI government’s decision to release Mr. Hagerich. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) thanked the TCI authorities for their “leniency” in releasing Mr. Hagerich.

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) welcomed the news and said that TCI officials recognized that Mr. Hagerich and other detained Americans “are not gunrunners” but “people who made a mistake.”

“I’m grateful that the judge recognized that the right thing to do was to send Bryan home. I’m also grateful to the U.S. State Department which has been a critical partner in bringing Bryan home,” he said in a statement.

“I’m hopeful that TCI expedites the rest of these cases and that the other detained Americans will soon be released and reunited with their families as well,” the senator added.

Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said he hopes Mr. Hagerich’s release “will set a positive precedent” for the other four Americans and called on the TCI government to look into the “unintended consequences” of its gun laws.

“The law was reasonably aimed at addressing an increase in gang violence, but the law’s unintended consequences have wrongly equated friendly American tourists traveling to the islands without a weapon to criminal gang activity.

“Once again, with full respect for their sovereignty and rule of law, I strongly urge Turks and Caicos to take immediate action to prevent such incidences from ever happening again,” he stated on X.

Other Americans Detained on TCI

The remaining four Americans—Tyler Wenrich of Virginia, Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, Michael Lee Evans of Texas, and Sharitta Shinise Grier of Florida—were arrested at different times when ammunition was allegedly found in their luggage.

If convicted, each could face a minimum 12-year prison sentence and a fine under TCI law.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt had previously asked TCI Gov. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam to “reconsider” the charges against the Americans.

A U.S. Congressional delegation—comprising several senators including Mr. Mullin and Mr. Fetterman—met with TCI officials on May 20 to call for their release. But TCI said the legal process must be allowed to play out without interference from the officials.

According to the TCI statement, the constitution of the British island territory in the Caribbean requires a clear separation of power between the executive and judicial branches of government.

Meanwhile, the State Department has issued a travel alert urging Americans to carefully check their luggage “for stray ammunition or forgotten weapons.”

The alert states: “Declaring a weapon in your luggage with an airline carrier does not grant permission to bring the weapon into the Turks and Caicos Islands and will result in your arrest.”

Michael Clements contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.