Two prison inmates in Dominican Republic grilled in David Ortiz shooting probe, authorities say
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Authorities here are questioning two inmates in connection with the shooting of retired Red Sox legend David Ortiz, according to people briefed on the case.
The inmates, Carlos Rafael Álvarez and José Eduardo Ciprian Lebrón, are being questioned about the attack on Ortiz, who was shot in the back Sunday night as he sat with friends at a bar in Santo Domingo. Ortiz, 43, continues to recover at Massachusetts General Hospital.
A person briefed on the case confirmed that Lebrón is being investigated as one of the planners of the attack on Ortiz.
Bella Brea, a lawyer for Álvarez, told the Globe that her client, who’s serving a 20-year prison term for robbery, was transferred Monday from Asua to the Felicidad jail, but she didn’t find out about the move until Thursday.
She said investigators told her Álvarez was asked about the Ortiz shooting but haven’t indicated whether her client is linked to the high-profile case. Authorities, Brea said, told her that they have evidence that Álvarez spoke at some point with the suspects arrested in connection with Ortiz’s shooting.
However, Brea said, police did not detail the evidence.
Neither Alvarez nor Lebrón have been charged in the attempted murder of Ortiz.
A total of six people have been arrested for their alleged roles in the attack, and a seventh suspect is still at large. The men were allegedly contracted to kill Ortiz for approximately $7,800, prosecutors allege, but officials haven’t said who ordered the hit or why.
Five men who were arrested Wednesday for allegedly participating in the shooting were scheduled to go before a judge Thursday evening to be formally charged, said Erick Montilla, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Santo Domingo Este.
Prosecutors intend to ask that the men be held for a year as the case makes its way through the court system, Montilla said.
Some of the suspects appear to have had criminal pasts.
The suspected gunman, Rolfi Ferreras Cruz, 25, also known as Sandy, may have a criminal history in New Jersey.
Lieutenant Robert Bracken of the Clifton, N.J., police said investigators are trying to determine whether Cruz is the same man who participated in two muggings on Dec. 22, 2017.
“They appear to be one [and] the same, but without the pedigree of the guy down in the Dominican Republic, I cannot make a confirmation,” Bracken wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.
The first mugging involved a 26-year-old Passaic, N.J., man, who was walking down the street when he was approached by several men wearing masks and brandishing handguns, police said.
The men forced the victim into a dark driveway, robbed him, and fled on foot. About an hour later, a 41-year-old Clifton man was targeted by the same men while he was walking down the street. He was robbed of cash and other belongings.
Police found two of the alleged robbers — a 16-year-old, who was not named because he is a juvenile, and Dalvin Cruceta-Espinal, a 19-year-old from Paterson — hiding in a backyard later that night.
Both were arrested. Two handguns were also found.
New Jersey police said further investigation led them to name two additional suspects: Arturo Hart, a 20-year-old from Passaic, who turned himself into police after learning he was wanted, and the man they suspect is Cruz, who was 23 and living in Paterson at the time. The latter was never found, and police released a photo of him in hopes of getting the public’s help in locating him.
The seventh suspect in the shooting, who remains at large, Luis Alfredo Rivas-Clase, also known as “The Surgeon,” is known to police in Reading, Pa., and Paterson, N.J.
The Berks County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff’s Department said Rivas-Clase was charged with conspiracy to commit attempted homicide after he plotted with another man to shoot a person on April 22, 2018.
The victim, who was shot in the lower back, told authorities that Rivas-Clase had threatened to have him killed a few days before the attack. Rivas-Clase was charged with conspiracy to commit attempted homicide after he plotted with another man to shoot a person on April 22, 2018.
The victim, who was shot in the lower back, told authorities that Rivas-Clase had threatened to have him killed a few days before the attack.
Another suspect, Oliver Moises Mirabal Acosta, has a violent criminal past in the Dominican Republic.
He 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. Acosta ultimately received a five-year prison term for gun offenses. It’s not clear how much time he served.
Local news outlets have reported that Acosta is the nephew of prominent Dominican sports commentator Franklin Mirabal. In a recent Instagram post, Franklin Mirabal did not deny a familial link but said he didn’t know Acosta and has no contact with two of his own brothers, who have had brushes with the law. Mirabal stressed that he fully supports David Ortiz.
Authorities identified the remaining alleged conspirators as Porfirio Ayendi Dechamps Vásquez, Joel Rodriguez Cruz, Reynaldo Rodriguez Valenzuela, and Eddy Vladimir Feliz García.
Prosecutors say the plotters pulled up near the Dial in two vehicles Sunday night and that Garcia, 23, drove Rolfi Ferreras Cruz a short distance on a motorcycle to the bar, where Cruz opened fire.
García was pummeled by witnesses as he tried to escape with Cruz after the shooting. He was the first of the six arrested. García’s lawyer claims he was a motorcycle taxi driver who unwittingly picked up the gunman as a fare.