SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic’s lead prosecutor said Wednesday that former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was not the target of a shooting in a nightclub in his hometown.
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez told reporters the target was another man, dressed similarly to Ortiz, who was seated with the retired baseball star on the night of the June 9 shooting in the capital of Santo Domingo.
Rodríguez said the shooting was orchestrated by a member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, who remains on the run. He did not immediately describe a motive.
Ortiz remains hospitalized from the gunshot wound to his back. Doctors in Boston have upgraded his condition from guarded to good.
At the time of the attack, Ortiz was with TV personality Jhoel López and the apparent target, a man named David Fernandez, at Dial Bar and Lounge, which once served as a casual hangout for people getting their cars cleaned across the street. Ortiz was sitting with his back to the street when he was shot once in the back by a bullet that also injured López.
The shooting was carried out by two men on a motorcycle who were followed by several suspects in two cars, authorities said.
Eleven suspects have been arrested, including the alleged shooter identified as Rolfy Ferreyra, aka Sandy, a skinny, tattooed 25-year-old whom U.S. prosecutors said is wanted on armed robbery and gun charges in New Jersey.
Rodríguez said the shooting was orchestrated by a man named Victor Hugo Gomez, whom he described as a member or associate of the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico’s major drug-trafficking organizations. Officials did not say why Gomez would have targeted Fernandez.
Gomez was believed to be in the United States and was being sought by the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte, director of the Dominican Republic’s national police.
The weapon used in the shooting, a Browning Hi Power semi-automatic pistol, was buried in the garden of one of the suspect’s home and was later turned over to police by his mother, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The other suspects include Joel Rodríguez de la Cruz, aka Squiddy; Reynaldo Rodríguez Valenzuela, aka The Chinaman; Franklin Junior Merán, aka Rubirosa; Porfirio Ayendy Dechamps Vásquez, aka Kid; and Eddy Vladimir Feliz García, aka The Package, who was identified as the alleged motorcycle driver.
Authorities say Garcia was captured and beaten by angry fans after he skidded and fell off his bike as the pair tried to flee. García’s attorney has said his client is an Ortiz fan and had no idea his passenger was going to commit a crime.
Another suspect was identified as Oliver Moisés Mirabal Acosta, aka Papi, whose father accused him of being involved in a gang of hit men and low-level drug dealers. He is accused of driving one of the cars used to stalk Ortiz before he was shot.
Also accused is Gabriel Alexander Pérez Vizcaíno, aka Bone, whom they say was hired by someone who is in prison on unrelated charges to be the liaison between the hit men and the person who paid them. Authorities say Pérez shared a picture of the target as he met the other suspects at a nearby gas station just minutes before the shooting, although they have not specified who was depicted in the picture.
They said Pérez then sold the cell phone used to plan the attack and to distribute a picture of the target to a woman for $180 so he could get rid of the evidence a day after the shooting.
Police are still looking for at least three other suspects: a woman known as The Venezuelan or Red; Luis Alfredo Rivas Clase, aka The Surgeon, who is wanted for a 2018 shooting in Reading, Pennsylvania, and is believed to driving the other used to stalk Ortiz; and Alberto Miguel Rodríguez Mota, whom authorities believe paid the hit men. Authorities have said coordinator of attack was offered 400,000 Dominican pesos, or about $7,800.
Wednesday’s announcement came as Ortiz recovers at Massachusetts General Hospital. Doctors in the Dominican Republic removed his gallbladder and part of his intestine before he was wheeled into an air ambulance sent by the Red Sox and flown to Boston.
Ortiz led the Red Sox to three World Series championships, was a 10-time All Star and hit 541 home runs. The Red Sox retired his number, 34, in 2017, and he has a bridge and a stretch of road outside Fenway Park named after him. He has a home in Weston, on the outskirts of Boston, that he shared with his wife and three children before putting it up for sale.
Although he lives in Boston, the 43-year-old visits the Dominican Republic several times a year. His father and sister live in Santo Domingo.