Six Arrested, One At Large In $8K Murder Plot Against Red Sox Icon David Ortiz: Police
SANTO DOMINGO — Six men have been arrested in the brazen ambush shooting of Boston Red Sox icon David “Big Papi” Ortiz that occurred at a crowded nightclub in the Dominican Republic.
Prosecutors and police said Wednesday that the suspects set out to kill the retired baseball player to collect an $8,000 bounty placed on his head.
In a news conference in the Dominican Republic, Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte, director of the national police, showed reporters the handgun used in the attempted hit job on Ortiz Sunday.
A manhunt was on late Wednesday for a seventh suspect. He was identified by police as Luis Alfredo Rivas Clase, who also goes by the nickname “The Surgeon.”
Almonte said all seven men were part of the murder plot that left Ortiz with a bullet wound to the back.
The suspected gunman who shot Ortiz was identified by police as 25-year-old Rolfy Ferreyra Cruz. Cruz is among those under arrest, according to police.
Almonte said the suspects were offered $8,000, or 400,000 Dominican pesos, to kill Ortiz. But he and other officials would not say who put the price on Ortiz’s head.
“They are being interrogated to try to get the truth,” Alain Rodiguez Sanchez, the attorney general of the Dominican Republic, said of the suspects.
Police said the handgun used in the attempted hit on Ortiz was found buried near a house in Mao, about 100 miles southwest of Santo Domingo, where one of the suspects was arrested.
The other suspects were identified as Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, Reynaldo Rodriguez Valenzuela, Joel Rodriguez Cruz, Oliver Moises Mirabal Acosta and Polfirio Alende Deschamps Vasquez.
Garcia, 25, was nabbed by onlookers and beaten before being turned over to police minutes after Ortiz was severely wounded at the Dial Bar and Lounge, a nightclub in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.
Almonte said Garcia arrived at the bar on a motorcycle with Acosta. After the shooting, Garcia tried to get away and fell off the motorcycle and was beaten by a mob, Almonte said. Police took Garcia to a hospital to be treated for his injuries.
Photos of officers escorting Garcia to a police station following his release from a hospital showed him with stitched-up gashes on his forehead and nose, a fresh bruise above his right eye and a busted lower lip.
Acosta was later arrested in the town of Santiago, Almonte said.
The investigation is ongoing, police said.
Surveillance video taken from the nightclub shows the alleged gunman, Rolfy Cruz, walking up behind Ortiz as he was sitting at the bar and shooting him in the back at close range.
Jhoel Lopez, a TV host in the Dominican Republic, was speaking to Ortiz at the bar when the shooting broke out and was also injured, according to The Associated Press.
During Wednesday’s news conference, police released more security video from inside and outside the bar. Other footage showed the gunman wearing a baseball cap approached Ortiz and fire.
Almonte said the bullet that hit Ortiz in the back exited his abdomen and struck Lopez in the leg.
Police said Cruz confessed to shooting Ortiz.
Video taken outside the bar showed other alleged accomplices pulling up in two silver Hyundai vehicles.
Garcia allegedly confessed to playing a role in the shooting, according to police. His attorney, Bunel Ramirez Meran, said Tuesday night that Garcia is not the gunman who shot Ortiz. Meran said Garcia is innocent.
Charging papers show that Garcia is charged with “intentionally causing injury through the use of an illegal firearm” in addition to attempted homicide and criminal association.
Garcia has been remanded into custody while legal proceedings are underway, documents showed.
Meran noted there is no legal distinction between being the author or the accomplice to a crime in the Dominican Republic.
After being shot and collapsing at the bar as a crowd of patrons scattered at the sound of gunfire, Ortiz underwent surgery at a Santo Domingo hospital. During the operation, doctors removed parts of his small and large intestines and liver.
He was flown to Boston late Sunday night on an air ambulance jet chartered by the Red Sox team and underwent a second surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“David continues to recuperate today in the Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital under the direction of treating trauma surgeon Dr. David King,” Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said in a statement released Wednesday.
“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,” she added. “My family and I again want to thank everyone for their endless love and well wishes, and still ask for privacy while David continues to heal.”