Dominican AG: Or­tiz shoot­ing re­sult of mis­taken iden­tity

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Repub­lic — For­mer Red Sox slug­ger David Or­tiz was shot in the back by a gun­man who mis­took him for the real tar­get, an­other man who was seated at the same ta­ble at an out­door cafe, Dominican of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

The Dominican Repub­lic’s at­tor­ney gen­eral and na­tional po­lice direc­tor told reporters that the at­tempted mur­der was ordered from the United States by Vic­tor Hugo Gomez, an as­so­ciate of Mex­ico’s Gulf Car­tel. They said Gomez had hired a gang of killers to eliminate his cousin, whom Gomez sus­pected of turn­ing him in to Dominican drug in­ves­ti­ga­tors in 2011.

The cousin, Sixto David Fernán­dez, was seated with the for­mer base­ball star on the night of June 9, when a gun­man ap­proached and fired a sin­gle shot at Or­tiz, the of­fi­cials said. Fernán­dez owned an au­tore­pair shop and was friends with Or­tiz, ac­cord­ing to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jean Alain Ro­dríguez and Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Al­monte, direc­tor of the Dominican Repub­lic’s na­tional po­lice.

Or­tiz re­mains hos­pi­tal­ized in Boston, where doc­tors have up­graded his con­di­tion from guarded to good.

At least 11 peo­ple have been ar­rested in the case so far, rang­ing from the al­leged gun­man to a se­ries of driv­ers and rel­a­tively mi­nor ac­com­plices. Ro­dríguez and Bautista said the case of mis­taken iden­tity be­gan when one of the ac­com­plices shot a blurry photo of Fernán­dez seated at the Dial Bar and Lounge in an up­scale sec­tion of Santo Domingo. In the photo, a white freezer ob­scures Fernán­dez’s lower body, mak­ing it look like he was wear­ing white pants when, in fact, he was wear­ing black pants, of­fi­cials said.

“It was a badly lit photo taken min­utes be­fore the at­tack,” the chief prose­cu­tor said.

Or­tiz was wear­ing white pants on the night of the shoot­ing and law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials said that the gun­man, Rolfy Fer­reyra, mis­took him for the tar­get and fired.

None­the­less, many Do­mini­cans were skep­ti­cal that their coun­try’s most fa­mous per­son, a 6-foot-3inch (2 me­ters) man weigh­ing around 250 pounds

(113 kilo­grams), could be mis­taken for Fernán­dez, who ap­peared to be far smaller with a lighter com­plex­ion in a photo pro­vided by au­thor­i­ties.

“He is big. He likes to at­tract at­ten­tion,” said Daniel Pou, an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant on pub­lic se­cu­rity. “He wears a lot of jew­elry. He’s flashy all around.”

The al­leged shooter is a skinny, tat­tooed 25-yearold whom U.S. prose­cu­tors said is wanted on armed rob­bery and gun charges in New Jersey. His driver was cap­tured im­me­di­ately af­ter the shoot­ing when he fell off the mo­tor­cy­cle he was try­ing to use to es­cape.

Fer­reyra and the other sus­pects were cap­tured over the next few days. Fer­reyra told reporters from the win­dow of a jail cell this week that he did not mean to shoot Or­tiz, but fired at him in con­fu­sion over his cloth­ing.

Gomez, the al­leged mas­ter­mind, is be­lieved to be in the United States and is be­ing sought by the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Bautista said, point­ing to a news re­port in which fed­eral au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied Gómez as one of sev­eral sus­pects in a March 2019 drug traf­fick­ing st­ing in Hous­ton, Texas.

The weapon used in the shoot­ing, a Brown­ing Hi Power semi­au­to­matic 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.

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 the pic­ture of the tar­get as he met the other sus­pects at a nearby gas sta­tion just min­utes be­fore the shoot­ing.

They said Pérez then sold the cell­phone 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 was be­lieved to be driv­ing a car used to stalk Fernán­dez; 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.

A video from the scene of the shoot­ing shows ev­ery­one flee­ing or crouch­ing ex­cept for Ro­dríguez, who stands calmly amid the chaos.

“He grabbed his beer to make sure it was safe,” Bautista said.

Au­thor­i­ties also are in­ves­ti­gat­ing Fernán­dez, the sup­posed tar­get, Bautista added.

Or­tiz is re­cov­er­ing 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.

He 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 Or­tiz vis­its the Dominican Repub­lic sev­eral times a year. His fa­ther and sis­ter live in Santo Domingo.

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