Turks and Caicos, Luggage, Transportation Security Administration, TSA

American Lawmakers Fighting For Black Women Stuck In Turks And Caicos After Ammunition Found In Luggage

Free Sharitta Grier!

Sharitta Grier is one of five Americans detained in Turks and Caicos, and lawmakers are fighting for her to come home. 

Several legislators traveled to the tropical island in late May 2024 to plead for Grier’s and the four others’ release. Florida Secretary of State Cord Boyd confirmed he met with government officials to determine how we can expedite their release and prevent this from happening to other Americans in the future.” 

Grier traveled to the island from Orlando, Florida, with her daughters for a surprise Mother’s Day trip. Using the same duffel bag she uses to store her gun and bullets, Grier says she thought she did a good job cleaning it out. The Transportation Security Authority (TSA) confiscated her lotion and body spray but missed the ammunition. But the Turks and Caicos Islands Civil Aviation Authority claim they found two bullets. 

After her bag was flagged, she was detained and spent three nights in jail. “It was a nightmare. I never experienced something like that in my life,” Grier said.

“I didn’t know. I didn’t see them. I didn’t hear them. I knew nothing about the rounds in that bag.” 

The Florida native was released on bond but is still waiting to appear before a judge, as her court date is July 5. If convicted, firearm and ammunition offenses on the island carry a minimum sentence of 12 years in prison. 

While waiting to learn her fate, Grier said she has days when she is up and down but mostly anxious about her freedom. She said she thinks about the Facebook post she made before the trip. Remembering how she prayed with her family before they left, Grier said her faith gets her through. “Knowing that post and everything ending like this. I just feel God is in the midst of this whole thing,” she said. 

“I don’t know what the end is going to be. What the story will be. God has a plan in the midst of all this.” 

However, she is anxious about her freedom, stating, “I’ve never even been to jail. I’ve never been in any trouble besides a speeding ticket.” 

Grier said she had no clue about the arrests of the other Americans she now shares a home with. According to NBC 10, the other detainees are Pennsylvania native Bryan Hagerich, Tyler Wenrich from Virginia, Ryan Watson of Oklahoma, and his mother and stepfather. Hagerich, Watson, and Wenrich face the same charges as Grier with the same possible sentence. 

Governors of Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Virginia sent a joint letter to Turks and Caicos’ Gov. Daniel-Selvaratnam pleading with her to reconsider the charges of their citizens. “We understand and appreciate the critical importance of upholding the laws and regulations of your territory for the protection of your citizens,” the letter reads. 

“We humbly ask that your government — in its wisdom — temper justice with mercy and recognize that these men made mistakes but had no apparent malicious intent.”

However, an island publication responded, saying Daniel-Selvaratnam “cannot comment on or get involved in an ongoing legal case and it is for legal counsel to ensure all relevant information regarding Watson’s case is presented to the court for appropriate consideration.” 

According to the island’s attorney general and the director of public prosecutions, the matter is in the hands of the Supreme Court, which is required to “impose a mandatory minimum sentence and fine for certain firearm offenses, except in circumstances where the court finds that there are exceptional circumstances….”

In the meantime, Grier’s family has started a GoFundMe account in hopes of garnering support for legal moves.