David Ortiz was not the intended target of the murder-for-hire plot that ended with the former Red Sox star being shot, authorities in the Dominican Republic said Wednesday.
Prosecutor Jean Alain Rodríguez Sánchez told reporters that a friend of Ortiz, Sixto David Fernandez – who was seated at Ortiz’s table – was the target of the bungled hit.
The suspected gunman was only sent a photo of Fernandez, who was wearing clothes similar to Ortiz that night. The prosecutor said the lightning made the shooter confuse one for the other.
“The fact that David Ortiz wasn’t the target doesn’t change anything,” Rodriguez Sanchez said. “The law is the same for everybody.”
The mastermind behind the attack was identified as Victor Hugo Gomez, a cousin of Fernandez.
Gomez was convicted in 2011 of several crimes in the Dominican Republic but has since then being released from prison.
Authorities believe Gomez ordered the killing because he suspected Fernandez turned him in to Dominican investigators back in 2011.
Sanchez said Gomez, who has alleged ties to Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, is wanted by the DEA and allegedly arranged the hit from the United States.
A total of 11 suspects are in custody in what was originally believed to be a plot against one of the Dominican Republic’s best known personalities.
Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte, director of the Dominican Republic National Police, said Gomez and two other suspects are still on the loose. The other suspects were identified as Luis Alfredo Rivas Clase and Alberto Miguel Rodriguez Mota, the man who police said took a photo of Fernandez at the bar that was eventually shown to the alleged gunman.
On Monday, CNN obtained Dominican court documents that identified Rodriguez Mota as the person accused of paying for the attempted hit. Mota faces attempted murder charges in the case.
What we know about man who allegedly paid for the attempted hit
Rodriguez Mota met with another suspect, Gabriel Alexander Perez Vizcaíno, to discuss a plan one week before Ortiz was shot, according to the indictment.
Perez Vizcaíno was the go-between for Rodriguez Mota and another suspect accused of helping orchestrate the hit from a Dominican prison, identified as Jose Eduardo Ciprián.
According to court documents, Ciprián and fellow inmate Carlos Alvarez helped coordinate the shooting and distributed a $7,800 payment to the “sicarios,” or assassins.
On the day of the shooting Ciprián is believed to have texted from his prison cell a photo of the target to Perez Vizcaíno, who is also known as “El Hueso” or “The Bone,” according to the court documents.
Perez Vizcaíno then met with a “criminal group” at a gas station to show them the photo of the person they were to “liquidate,” according to the indictment.
On Monday, Perez Vizcaíno was given a year of pre-trial detention at a court hearing, according to Jose Hoopelman, an attorney for David Ortiz.
It is not clear why Rodriguez Mota would have paid nearly $8,000 to kill Ortiz or if he was acting on someone else’s behalf.
How the shooting unfolded
Ortiz was on a crowded bar patio in Santo Domingo the night of June 9 when a gunman walked in, pulled out a Browning Hi-Power 9mm and shot him once in the lower back.
The bullet passed through Ortiz, perforating his intestines and internal organs and hit his friend, TV talk show host Jhoel Lopez, in the leg. He’s hospitalized in Boston, and his condition was upgraded to good Tuesday.
The accused gunman, Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, fled the scene on foot. His alleged getaway driver, Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, stalled out his motorcycle as he attempted to flee. An enraged crowd pummeled him before turning him over to police.
The status of the cases
Many of the accused come from poor neighborhoods and appear to be foot soldiers in an alleged plot against one of the greatest athletes the Dominican Republic has ever produced.
Several of them denied involvement as masked officers hustled them into court for a hearing on Friday. At the hearing, a judge ordered nine of the suspects to remain in jail for at least a year while awaiting trial.
The alleged gunman, Ferreira Cruz, was arrested June 12 and confessed to the shooting, prosecutors said.
Ferreira Cruz told reporters he meant to shoot someone else, a claim that prosecutors say is absurd considering that Ortiz is one of the most recognizable people in the country.
CNN’s Patrick Oppman reported from Santo Domingo, Ray Sanchez wrote from New York and Nicole Chavez wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg and Jonny Hallam contributed to this report.