Pennsylvania dad returns home after detainment in Turks and Caicos for ammo in his luggage

Pennsylvania dad returns home after detainment in Turks and Caicos for ammo in his luggage

COCKBURN TOWN — A Pennsylvania man arrived at the Pittsburgh airport Friday night after he was released from custody on the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), where he had been detained for having ammunition in his luggage.

Bryan Hagerich — a 39-year-old husband, father of two and former professional baseball player — was one of five Americans arrested and detained on the islands since February for having stray ammunition in their luggage, a crime punishable up to 12 years on the islands.

The other detained Americans are Ryan Watson, 40, of Oklahoma; Sharitta Grier, 45, of Florida; Tyler Wenrich, 31, of Virginia; and Michael Lee Evans, 72, of Texas.

Pennsylvania dad returns home after detainment in Turks and Caicos for ammo in his luggage

“Its just amazing how, just in the matter of 12 hours, looking at 12 years to now,” Hagerich told reporters Friday night after he landed in Pittsburgh. “My biggest concern is coaching my kids’ baseball games tomorrow, and that is such a relief.”

Hagerich said his detention was the “hardest time of my life” being separated from his family.

“As a father, as a provider, and to not be that figure in my family’s life, it’s a very tough pill to swallow,” he said.

He said the conditions of his detention were “tough” and the “darkest days” of his life.

And while he said he is thankful to be home, he stressed that there are other Americans still in detention on the islands who he said “will be home soon.”

A Turks and Caicos judge issued a suspended 52-month sentence Friday morning to Hagerich, who pleaded guilty to possessing ammunition on the islands. He was also ordered to pay a $6,500 fine.

Hagerich told Fox News Digital on Thursday that he and his attorneys “made a very, very strong case” in his defense after he pleaded guilty.

Pennsylvania dad returns home after detainment in Turks and Caicos for ammo in his luggage

Several lawmakers applauded the move to release Hagerich from custody on the islands, allowing him to return to his family in Pennsylvania.

Following a monthslong ordeal, Bryan Hagerich of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, was given a suspended sentence of 52 weeks on Friday, allowing him to fly home after paying a $6,700 fine.

A bipartisan congressional delegation had visited TCI on Monday to urge government leaders to release the Americans detained for having stray ammunition in their bags.

“This is great news,” US Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., said in a statement. “Bryan is coming home to his family. It was an honor to meet Bryan and the other detained Americans in TCI this week.”

“When we met with TCI officials a few days ago, they made clear they wanted this situation resolved,” Fetterman continued. “They recognized that Bryan and the other detained Americans are not gunrunners — they are just 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 US State Department which has been a critical partner in bringing Bryan home.”

Fetterman also said he is hopeful that TCI expedites the other cases of detained Americans so they can also be released soon and return to their families.

Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler said while he is “overjoyed” to see Hagerich is returning to Pennsylvania and reuniting with his wife and children, “this terrifying situation should have never happened to him, or the four other Americans still awaiting sentencing.”

Pennsylvania dad returns home after detainment in Turks and Caicos for ammo in his luggage

“As the Turks and Caicos government works to handle future cases, the British territory must ensure the safety and wellbeing of US tourists. I won’t rest until Americans can once again set foot on their islands without putting their livelihoods at risk,” the congressional representative said.

Hagerich said Friday night he is “forever grateful” for lawmakers’ efforts advocating for his release, including the delegation that visited the islands.

“Never in a thousand years did I expect that kind of support,” Hagerich said.

The cases of the five Americans have slight differences, but all five were arrested while traveling home after security detected ammunition in their luggage.

Hagerich had stray ammunition from a previous hunting trip in one of the compartments of a large suitcase his family had loaded their belongings into for a family vacation. 

Watson had stray ammunition, also left over from a hunting trip, in the lining of his carry-on bag. Grier had stray bullets in the lining of her bag after she recently purchased a firearm for her own protection.

Wenrich has similarly said he had no intention of bringing bullets onto the islands and had no idea he had two bullets in his travel backpack until security found them.

Hagerich landed at Pittsburgh International Airport on Friday at around 9:30 p.m. and hugged his children after stepping off the escalator to baggage claim. Hagerich held his children in the air for about 15 seconds before kneeling to embrace them.


Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.