Tourist who brought ammo to Turks and Caicos sentenced to time served, fined $9,000

A man from Virginia has been spared a potential 12-year sentence under the strict gun laws of Turks and Caicos. Instead, he has been fined $9,000 and released after serving his time for bringing ammunition to the islands.

Tyler Wenrich, a resident of Richmond, embarked on a cruise ship journey to Grand Turk in late April to celebrate a bachelor party. Unfortunately, during a routine security check, authorities discovered ammunition in his possession.

The 911 operator and emergency medical technician has chosen to remain on the island after being arrested and pleading guilty on May 21 to two counts of possessing ammunition, specifically two 9 mm rounds.

On Tuesday morning, a judge issued a three-week prison sentence for Wenrich, which equated to the time he had already served during his arrest and detention.

The father, who is 31 years old, will be allowed to go back home after he pays a fine of $9,000.

According to Wenrich, he and his wife, who witnessed the sentencing, are scheduled to return home on Thursday.

“I am just relieved,” he expressed after the sentencing. “It feels like a heavy burden has been lifted off both me and my wife.”

Wenrich has been apart from his 18-month-old son since he was arrested.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to return home and be reunited with my son,” he expressed with a sense of joy.

Wenrich went shooting at a gun range with his friends and he realized that he had forgotten he was carrying the ammunition.

Traveling to Turks and Caicos with a firearm, ammunition, or any other weapon can lead to a minimum prison sentence of 12 years. Nevertheless, the court has the authority to impose a less severe punishment if there are extraordinary circumstances present.

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“I’m filled with fear and anxiety about what the future holds, and I truly hope that the judge recognizes the difficult circumstances I’m facing and shows me some compassion and leniency,” expressed Wenrich in an interview with ABC News.

According to a statement by the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Justice Davidson Baptiste has cited “exceptional circumstances” in Wenrich’s case. The statement further emphasizes that enforcing the mandatory minimum would have been arbitrary and disproportionate, and would not have served the public interest.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government continues to prioritize the enforcement of its laws in order to guarantee the safety and security of both residents and visitors. The statement further emphasizes the significance of remaining vigilant and abiding by local regulations for all individuals visiting the islands.

In the past five months, Wenrich is one of five Americans who have been charged under the firearms ordinance for possessing ammunition.

Bryan Hagerich, a Pennsylvania father who admitted to possessing 20 rounds of ammunition, received his sentence on Friday. He was given a suspended 52-week sentence and ordered to pay a fine of $6,700, which he promptly paid. Since then, he has returned to the U.S.

Ryan Watson from Oklahoma, Michael Lee Evans from Texas, and Sharitta Grier from Florida are facing charges after authorities discovered ammunition in their luggage.

Each defendant claimed that they did not pack the ammunition with intent. Evans, who was released on bail due to a medical condition, left the island and is currently awaiting sentencing.

Watson and Grier, although currently out on bail, have been restricted from leaving Turks and Caicos as their legal cases progress.

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