The shooting of baseball legend David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic left fans in his native country and the United States wondering the same thing:
Why would anyone try to kill Big Papi and think they could get away with it?
Ortiz was on a crowded patio at the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo the night of June 9 when a gunman shot him in what Dominican authorities initially described as a murder-for-hire plot against him.
Ten days later, authorities revised their theory and said it was a case of mistaken identity. The real target, they now say, was Ortiz’s friend, Sixto David Fernandez, who was seated at the same table.
How was Ortiz mistakenly targeted? Here’s what Dominican Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez Sánchez and National Police Director Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte said Wednesday about what happened.
The alleged mastermind wanted to kill his cousin
Authorities have arrested 11 suspects so far. Three suspects remain at large, including the man who police say is the mastermind, Victor Hugo Gomez.
Gomez lives in the United States and the US Drug and Enforcement Administration said it is searching for him.
Fernandez is Gomez’s cousin, the police director said Wednesday. Suspecting that Fernandez had turned him in to law enforcement in 2011, Gomez directed the hit on Fernandez from the United States through a sprawling web of contacts in the Dominican Republic, Bautista Almonte said.
One of those people includes the man accused of bankrolling the hit, Alberto Miguel Rodriguez Mota, who is also at large.
It’s not clear why he would have put up the $7,800 payment for the would-be assassins as police allege. Gomez, Rodriguez Mota and two other suspects in the plot had previously crossed paths in jail, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
But the night of the shooting, Gomez sent Rodriguez Mota to the nightclub to wait for Fernandez, Bautista Almonte said.
The target arrives at the club
Rodriguez Mota arrived at Dial Lounge at 5:40 p.m. and waited for several hours, police said Wednesday.
When Fernandez arrived, Rodriguez Mota took a photo of him seated at a table, Bautista Almonte said.
Surveillance video shows Ortiz arriving a few minutes later dressed in similar clothes, including a patterned shirt.
A photo of the target is sent to a Dominican prison
Bautista Almonte said Rodriguez Mota texted the photo to another suspect in a Dominican prison, Jose Eduardo Ciprian.
Ciprian, nicknamed “Chuky,” is accused by police of helping plot the hit from the 15 de Azua prison, where court documents indicate he is serving time for homicide.
The photo is sent to another suspect
Ciprian is believed to have texted the photo to another suspect, Gabriel Alexander Perez Vizcaíno, who had met Rodriguez Mota the week before to discuss the plan, according to court documents.
After receiving the photo, Vizcaíno – also known as “El Hueso” or “The Bone” – met the other suspects at a gas station. He showed them the photo of the person they were to “liquidate,” according to court documents.
Vizcaíno only showed them the photo, but did not provide them with a name, Bautista Almonte said Wednesday.
The gunman enters the club
Previously, Dominican officials released video that they said shows the gunman and the getaway driver speaking with people inside a car parked near the club.
Soon after, police said, Eddy Vladimir Féliz Garcia drove the alleged shooter to the bar on the back of the motorcycle.
Rolfi Ferreira Cruz walked onto the patio, pulled out a Browning Hi-Power 9 mm and shot Ortiz, mistaking him for Fernandez, Rodríguez Sánchez and Bautista Almonte said Wednesday.
The bullet passed through Ortiz, perforating his intestines and internal organs. The bullet then hit Ortiz’s friend, TV talk show host Jhoel Lopez, in the leg, authorities previously said.
Ferreira Cruz fled the scene on foot, police said. But they say Feliz Garcia stalled out his motorcycle as he attempted to flee.
He was pummeled by an enraged crowd before being turned over to police.