6 arrested in scheme to kill David Ortiz
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Six people, including the alleged gunman, have been arrested and accused of attempting to kill David Ortiz to collect an $8,000 bounty, authorities in the Dominican Republic said Wednesday, as the retired baseball star remained in intensive care in Boston from a single gunshot wound to the back.
At a press conference Wednesday, Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte, director of the Dominican National Police, and Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez Sanchez said the hitmen had been offered 400,000 Dominican pesos, or roughly $7,800, to kill Ortiz, a native of the Caribbean nation.
Almonte said authorities are continuing to investigate and have not determined who ordered the shooting and what the motive was. All six suspects are being interrogated by police, he said.
As Ortiz continued his recovery from two surgeries to repair damage to his intestines and liver, new details of the brazen ambush, carried out Sunday night at a crowded nightclub in Santo Domingo, revealed an orchestrated hit against one of the country’s most beloved figures.
Investigators believe the attack involved multiple people who arrived in two cars and on a motorcycle and were seen by witnesses meeting earlier on Sunday.
Authorities identified a seventh man who was allegedly involved in the attack as Luis Alfredo Riva Clase, also known as “the Surgeon,” and urged him to turn himself in. They named the gunman as Rolfi Ferreras Cruz .
Another alleged conspirator, Oliver Moises Mirabal Acosta, was one of several men accused of participating in the execution of at least four people in January 2013 in “El Pentagono,” a drug-dealing area in the town of Las Palmas de Herrera, according to the Dominican newspaper Listin Diario.
Those 2013 killings were linked, the newspaper said, to a drug trafficking gang.
On Wednesday, Almonte held up the black handgun allegedly used to shoot Ortiz at close range and showed security camera footage of the shooting and its chaotic aftermath.
Documents filed by the prosecution and obtained by the Globe lay out a timeline that began late Sunday afternoon in the Las Caobas neighborhood of Santo Domingo, where a friend saw Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, 23, talking to a group of people hanging out in two silver-gray cars in a parking lot. Behind the wheel of one of the cars was Acosta, known as “Papi,” the documents say.
Later that Sunday night, witnesses saw two similarly colored cars, a Kia and a Hyundai, parked on a street near the Dial Bar and Lounge, where Ortiz was sitting on the patio with friends. Garcia was on a motorcycle next to the cars, with a man riding on back.
Garcia and the man got off the motorcycle and drove around the block in the Kia. When they returned minutes later, the witnesses say, Garcia and the man got back on the motorcycle.
Moments later, witnesses near the Dial Bar saw a man jump off a motorcycle and walk up to Ortiz.
“Without saying a word, [the gunman] fired a gun,” the documents say.
Witnesses said the shooter tried to get back on the motorcycle, but fled when people surrounded the bike.
Garcia sped off, but lost control of the motorcycle. He fell, and was beaten and bloodied by a group of onlookers, prosecutors wrote, and was soon arrested. The gunman, meanwhile, kept running with the gun in his hand and “managed to escape,” the report states.
Afterward, police conducted “an exhaustive investigation” and examined video surveillance that revealed license plates that were linked back to the suspects believed to be involved in the shooting.
Garcia has been charged with being an accomplice to attempted murder and made an initial court appearance Tuesday night. His lawyer has asserted he was merely a motorcycle taxi driver who had no idea he was driving a gunman.
Garcia picked up the fare “in good faith,” his lawyer said, and grew up worshiping Ortiz.
Acosta was arrested Tuesday night in Mao, about three hours north of Santo Domingo. It wasn’t immediately clear what he’s being charged with.
Both the attorney general and the National Police director spoke of Ortiz as an important national figure, with Almonte asking for prayers for the health of “our Dominican Big Papi, our Big Papi of Boston, our Big Papi of the world.”
In Boston, Ortiz remained at Massachusetts General Hospital after undergoing surgery there and in the Dominican.
“David continues to recuperate today in the Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital under the direction of treating trauma surgeon Dr. David King,” Tiffany Ortiz, Ortiz’s wife, said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “Yesterday and this morning, David was able to sit up as well as take some steps. His condition is guarded and he will remain in the ICU for the coming days, but he is making good progress towards recovery.”
Ortiz, 43, has been on the phone with people, but has not taken visitors beyond family, a team source said.
Leo Lopez, an Ortiz spokesman, said, “The process is taking time, but everything’s fine. He’s fine.”
Dominican authorities are eager to conclude the investigation because of the impact the shooting may have on tourism, the source said.
At Fenway Park, Ortiz’s former teammates were heartened to learn of his progress.
“Obviously it’s a delicate situation. I’ve been getting updates the last few days,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who played with Ortiz from 2005 to 2008. “It’s been positive. Just staying positive and praying for this to happen. He’s going to bounce back. He’s going to be back with us. We know that.”
Cora said he hopes to visit Ortiz before the team leaves on its next road trip Thursday night.
“I would love to,” he said.
Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. also offered words of support for Ortiz.
“Glad to know @davidortiz was up and walking around today!” Bradley wrote on Instagram. “Keep on pushing! You have so much love and support. Now get back stronger so I can bear hug you my brother.”
Meanwhile, Red Sox player Eduardo Nunez told ESPN that he and other Dominican players feel bad that Ortiz was shot in their country.
“Just thinking about the fact that this happened to him in the Dominican Republic, it is unimaginable,” Nunez said Wednesday. “For us, as Dominican players, it’s a very bad image. It is an international shame.
“We feel very embarrassed about what happened to him because he is a legend from our homeland, and this happened to him in our homeland.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Aimee Ortiz, Travis Andersen, Marcela Garcia, and Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed.