Pennsylvania Dad Set for Release After Turks and Caicos Sentencing, Four Other Americans Still Detained

by Tommy Grant

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The months-long saga for at least one American trapped on the island of Turks and Caicos (TCI) after airport security there discovered loose rounds of ammunition in his travel bag seems to be finally coming to end. A TCI judge today issued a suspended 52-month sentence to Bryan Hagerich, a Pennsylvania father of two and former professional baseball player, for possessing the ammunition. Hagerich, who pleaded guilty, was also fined $6,500. According to Fox News, he is expected to be released soon.

Hagerich is one of five Americans arrested in TCI since February for having stray ammunition in their luggage, a crime that can result in up to 12 years in prison under TCI law. The other Americans facing similar charges include Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, Sharitta Grier of Florida, Tyler Wenrich of Virginia, and Michael Lee Evans of Texas. Hagerich had stray rounds in his bag from a previous hunting trip that he wasn’t aware was even in the bag. Nor was it detected by TSA when he flew out of the United States.

“From the day that I was arrested, the end goal was to get off the island and go home to my family. To think that day is potentially tomorrow, it’s every emotion under the sun,” Hagerich told Fox News Digital. He acknowledged the strong defense presented by his attorneys and expressed gratitude for the prayers and support from friends and strangers worldwide.

During their time awaiting their trails on TCI, Hagerich, Watson and Grier have been supporting each other, forming a close bond as they await their fates and several of them even living together in the same condo.

Several U.S. politicians have responded to the judge’s decision. Democratic Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania called the suspended sentence “great news,” praising the leniency shown by TCI authorities. Republican Congressman Guy Reschenthaler also welcomed Hagerich’s imminent release but properly criticized the situation that led to the arrests. He emphasized the need for TCI to ensure the safety of U.S. tourists and indicated he would push for measures to protect Americans.

Reschenthaler suggested drastic actions if TCI does not amend its laws or at least its treatment of Americans, including urging the State Department to issue a no-travel order to the islands, which could severely impact their tourism-dependent economy. He pointed out that 86% of TCI’s tourists are Americans and highlighted the potential economic consequences of such an order.

Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania also expressed relief at the judge’s decision, noting the critical role of the U.S. State Department in advocating for Hagerich. Fetterman voiced hope that the other detained Americans would soon be released and reunited with their families.

The arrests of these Americans, all involving stray ammunition from previous trips, have highlighted the strict enforcement of TCI’s firearms and ammunition laws, as well as the concern Americans should have visiting the country.

Reschenthaler’s proposal includes implementing tariffs on U.S. imports to TCI and issuing no-travel orders from states that frequently send tourists to the islands, such as Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He criticized the law as “draconian” and called for immediate changes to prevent similar situations in the future. The country, which depends on U.S. tourists to keep their economy afloat, would feel the pain should such measures be implemented.

A bipartisan congressional delegation visited TCI to discuss the detentions and advocate for the Americans’ release. However, TCI officials have emphasized the need to uphold their legal processes and maintain strict penalties for firearm and ammunition possession to ensure the safety of residents and visitors alike.

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