Turks and Caicos releases US tourist arrested for ammo in luggage

Turks and Caicos releases US tourist arrested for ammo in luggage

Turks and Caicos released an American man who was charged for bringing 20 rounds of ammunition in his luggage to the Caribbean islands, according to court documents released Friday.

Bryan Hagerich, a Pennsylvania father of two, was arrested in February while on a family vacation. In Turks and Caicos — a British territory — firearms, weapons and stray bullets are prohibited.

Hagerich faced a 12-year sentence, the country’s minimum under its strict gun laws.

At his sentencing hearing Friday on the island of Providenciales, Judge Tanya Lobban Jackson sentenced Hagerich to 52 weeks but with “12 months suspended,” meaning he won’t serve any jail time, NBC News reported.

The judge said she found exceptional circumstances for him, citing that he unintentionally brought the ammunition, that his detainment had an impact on his daughter and that he had no criminal background, the outlet reported.

He can head home after making a payment of $6,700, per the reporting.

After court, an emotional Hagerich said he was “absolutely elated” and could not wait to get back to his children.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for for the last 101 days and to experience this here – in eight short hours to be home and hug my kids — it’s the best day,” he said, per NBC News, which had reporters at the courthouse.

He said he hopes to continue working for the other Americans who are detained on the island for similar charges.

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) was among a group of lawmakers who traveled to the island to lobby for the Americans’ release. He said in a statement Friday that it was an honor to meet with Hagerich and the others.

Fetterman said officials on the Turks and Caicos islands recognized that Hagerich and the other 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,” he continued in his statement. “I’m also grateful to the U.S. State Department which has been a critical partner in bringing Bryan home.”

The freshman senator said he is hopeful that the government expedites the other cases and the detained Americans “will soon be released and reunited with their families as well.”

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