American held in Turks and Caicos over ammunition speaks out after returning home

Bryan Hagerich was held in the Caribbean nation for three months.

May 27, 2024, 1:30 PM

The Pennsylvania father who was held in Turks and Caicos over ammunition in his baggage said he was preparing for "doomsday" as he waited to learn if he would be sent to prison for more than a decade.

In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America," Bryan Hagerich and his wife, Ashley Hagerich, said they put together a list of everything he would need if he was given the full 12-year sentence by a judge. Turks and Caicos has one of the Caribbean's strictest gun laws.

"Prison is a whole different feeling that, even to this day, right now, I don't think you can ever prepare yourself for it," Hagerich told "GMA" correspondent Matt Rivers.

Bryan Hagerich and his wife Ashley speak with ABC News after being released from Turks and Caicos arrest.
ABC News

Watch more of Brian and Ashley Hagerich's interview on "Good Morning America," Tuesday, May 28, at 7 a.m. ET.

Bryan Hagerich, a father of two, pleaded guilty to possession of 20 rounds of ammunition after he was arrested in February, saying he forgot hunting ammunition was in his bag while he was traveling. He was forced to stay in Turks and Caicos until his court case was finished.

Ashley Hagerich told "GMA" that she brought two suitcases to Turks and Caicos in preparation for last Friday's sentencing hearing.

"The black suitcase was home [and] the green suitcase was doomsday," she said.

Bryan Hagerich and his wife Ashley speak with ABC News after being released from Turks and Caicos arrest.
ABC News

In the end, the doomsday suitcase wasn't needed.

A judge sentenced Bryan Hagerich to a suspended 52-week sentence with a fine of $6,700, which he soon paid. He was given his passport and returned to the United States without serving the sentence.

He arrived back in Pennsylvania late Friday, hugging his kids at the airport.

PHOTO: Bryan Hagerich hugs his children, Palmer, 4, left, and Caroline, 6, middle, next to his wife, Ashley, after arriving at Pittsburgh International Airport, May 24, 2024, in Pittsburgh.
Bryan Hagerich hugs his children, Palmer, 4, left, and Caroline, 6, middle, next to his wife, Ashley, after arriving at Pittsburgh International Airport, May 24, 2024, in Pittsburgh. Hagerich was arrested in the Caribbean for illegally carrying ammunition and returned to the United States after receiving a suspended sentence of one year and a fine of several thousand dollars.
Matt Freed/AP

Bryan Hagerich was one of five American tourists arrested in Turks and Caicos in the last six months over the country's gun control laws that ban civilian possession of firearms and ammunition.

Defendants face a minimum 12-year sentence for violating the laws.

Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, Michael Lee Evans of Texas, Tyler Scott Wenrich of Virginia, and Sharitta Shinise Grier of Florida, have all been charged after ammunition was found in their luggage.

Each of the defendants said they did not intentionally pack the ammunition. Evans was able to leave the island due to a medical condition while out on bail and is awaiting sentencing.

The remaining Americans are out on bail but aren't allowed to leave Turks and Caicos.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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