Man describes unexpected encounter with alleged Ortiz shooter
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — It was Sunday evening, and Juan Carlos Reynoso Hidalgo was entertaining friends in the recording studio at his home near the Dial Bar and Lounge.
Reynoso Hidalgo, a dental technician, said he heard a gate on his property creak open and went to see who was there. The visitor, Reynoso Hidalgo told the Globe on Saturday, was a sweaty, nervous stranger carrying a gun and bleeding from his arm.
Prosecutors allege in documents that he was Rolfi Ferreras Cruz, 25, the man accused of shooting retired Red Sox legend David Ortiz in an orchestrated attack. The records say Ferreras Cruz arrived at Reynoso Hidalgo’s home at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, about 10 minutes after Ortiz was ambushed.
“I had no idea where he came from, I had no idea what he had done,” Reynoso Hidalgo said Saturday.
He spoke as Gabriel Alexander Perez Vizcaíno, the 10th person implicated in the plot to kill Ortiz, was brought Saturday evening to a judicial facility, where his initial court appearance was postponed until Monday, according to his lawyer. Vizcaíno, who goes by the nickname “The Bone,” turned himself in to authorities Friday, said Erick Montilla, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.
The 10th suspect, Gabriel Alexander Perez Vizcaíno aka “El Hueso” or “The Bone” made his first courtroom appearance today. Prosecutors asked for the same as the indicted 9 from Friday, but judge ruled with defense to push everything back to Monday @ 5pm pic.twitter.com/zf05jZQpT7— Aimee Ortiz (@aimee_ortiz) June 16, 2019
Three suspects wanted in connection to the attack on Ortiz remain at large, Montilla said Saturday. He identified them as Luis Alfredo Rivas Clase, Marcos Díaz, and Maria Fernanda Villasmil Manzanilla, who goes by the nicknames “The Venezuelan” and “La Pelirrubia.”
Rivas Clase, 31, also known as “The Surgeon,” has ties to Reading, Pa., where he allegedly ordered two underlings to kill a man on April 22, 2018, police said.
Milciades Guzmán, Santo Domingo’s top prosecutor, told reporters Friday that he will push for a 40-year prison term for Ferreras Cruz, the alleged gunman. Such punishment is the maximum allowed under Dominican law for crimes committed with a firearm, the prosecutor’s office said.
“He’s not going to see the sun for the next 40 years,” Guzmán said in Spanish.
Speaking to the Globe, Reynoso Hidalgo said Ferreras Cruz motioned to him to stay quiet after arriving at his home. Reynoso Hidalgo told him the property was equipped with surveillance cameras and sensors.
“I tried to calm him down, I told him, ‘Look, calm down, I’m not going to call anyone, but I want you to leave my home,’ ” he said.
Ferreras Cruz said he had been attacked, said Reynoso Hidalgo, who pressed him about his story.
Ferreras Cruz then said he had assaulted a man.
“He said he attacked a man, not that he shot a man,” Reynoso Hidalgo said.
Ferreras Cruz asked Reynoso Hidalgo to call his girlfriend, then his family. Reynoso Hidalgo said he refused those requests but agreed to summon a taxi to pick up Ferreras Cruz.
After he left, Reynoso Hidalgo said a friend showed him a video of civilians beating Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, the 23-year-old man who allegedly drove Ortiz’s attacker to the bar on a motorcycle. The footage, Reynoso Hidalgo said, put the visit from Ferreras Cruz into perspective.
“That’s what I knew where he had come from and what he had done,” he said. “That was when I got really afraid. I didn’t even go to the cops.”
On Thursday, Reynoso Hidalgo said police approached him about Ferreras Cruz.
“They showed me [Ferreras Cruz] and asked if that was who I saw, I said, ‘Yes, he was at my house with a gun,’ and that’s how everything happened,” he said.
Ferreras Cruz has reportedly claimed from jail that Ortiz wasn’t his intended target, saying he was confused about his target because he had only been told the color of the man’s clothing.
A spokesman for prosecutors has rejected Cruz’s assertions, which were broadcast by Dominican media outlets.
Late Friday, Dominican authorities indicted nine suspects, including Ferreras Cruz, in connection to the shooting.
The indictments mean authorities can hold the suspects for up to a year while investigators look into the shooting of Ortiz.
Dominican authorities have not said who ordered the attack on Ortiz or what the motive might have been, though they have indicated that they expect to provide more details next week. Officials have said the alleged hit men were paid about $7,800 to murder Ortiz, who is revered in his native country as well as in Massachusetts.
Ortiz, 43, is hospitalized at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he was taken Monday for treatment. He was shot in the back and is now recovering from surgery to repair his liver and intestines.
After the shooting, police found surveillance footage showing Garcia and Ferreras Cruz huddling with five other men in a silver car on a street near the bar, documents show.
Garcia’s lawyer has said his client unwittingly picked up Ferreras Cruz as a fare.
The vehicle was driven by Oliver Moises Mirabal Acosta, who is accused of taking possession of the firearm used in the attack and then giving it to another suspect.
Those same men had been seen talking together in the neighborhood of Las Caobas at 5:30 p.m., about four hours before Ortiz was shot.
The documents indicate that police believe the plot to shoot Ortiz was hatched from inside a prison, with two inmates, Jose Eduardo Ciprian Lebron and Carlos Rafael Alvarez, communicating with Acosta, Rivas Clase, and another person to recruit people to participate in the attack.
At Reynoso Hidalgo’s home Saturday, blood still stained a spot where Ferreras Cruz had been about a week earlier.
The shooting of Ortiz, Reynoso Hidalgo said, is proof that no one is immune from the threat of violence.
“This is a global problem,” he said. “There’s danger everywhere.”