Dominican prosecutors say a fugitive suspect paid for the would-be assassins who shot David Ortiz in a murder-for-hire plot.
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez Sanchez told reporters Wednesday that a friend of Ortiz – who shared a table with him at a patio bar in Santo Domingo – was the target of the bungled hit.
The suspected gunman was only sent a blurry photo of the friend identified as Sixto David Fernandez, who was wearing clothes similar to Ortiz that night, prosecutors and police said. Authorities said the lighting 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 extraordinary twist in the case came less than a week after a prosecution spokesman dismissed reports that Ortiz was not the intended victim, saying he doubted any Dominican would not recognize the ex-ballplayer.
Gomez was convicted in 2011 of several crimes in the Dominican Republic but has since been released from prison. Authorities say they believe Gomez ordered the killing because he suspected Fernandez turned him in to Dominican investigators back in 2011.
Authorities believe Gomez ordered the killing because he suspected Fernandez turned him in to Dominican investigators back in 2011.
The attorney general said Gomez has alleged ties to Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, and is wanted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. The attorney general said Gomez is believed to have arranged the hit from the United States.
A total of 11 suspects are in custody. Gomez and two other suspects are still on the run, said Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte of the Dominican Republic National Police.
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. Rodriguez Mota faces attempted murder charges in the case.
What we know about Alberto Miguel Rodriguez Mota’s alleged role
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 Ortiz 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 behest.
How the shooting unfolded
Ortiz was sitting 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.
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 Wednesday and confessed to the shooting, prosecutors told CNN.
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.