Red Sox Legend David Ortiz Was Not Intended Target of Assassination Attempt: Authorities

WEEI 93.7

Dominican Republic authorities say David Ortiz was not the intended target of last Sunday's shooting inside of a crowded bar in Santo Domingo. Instead, the gunman was looking for one of Ortiz's friends, who was seated at the same table as the Red Sox legend.

At a press conference Wednesday, Dominican Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez said the attack was plotted against Sixto David Fernandez, who regularly attends the Dial Bar and Lounge. "The target was a friend of David Ortiz's, who was sharing the same table," Rodriguez said to reporters. "The attack was specifically against Sixto David Fernandez, who had been visiting that establishment."

The alleged gunman, Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, told reporters last week he was aiming for somebody besides Ortiz. Surveillance video shows Cruz running behind Ortiz and shooting him at close range in the lower back. Ortiz underwent two emergency surgeries in the Dominican Republic and back in Boston in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

Rodriguez also said a drug cartel member, Victor Hugo Gomez, is the mastermind behind the shooting. Dominican police say he paid the perpetrators roughly $7,800 to carry out the attack. So far, 12 co-conspirators have been arrested, with several more on the loose, including Gomez.

Officials say Gomez elicited the help of two prison inmates, Jose Eduardo Ciprian Lebron and Carlos Alvarez, to help organize the apparent assassination attempt.

The Daily Mail and other outlets have reported a drug kingpin ordered the hit on Ortiz, because he was engaged in a romantic relationship with one of the kingpin's partners. Receipts show Ortiz purchased an $85,000 Lexus for the woman in question, Maria Yeribell Martinez Garcia, one day before the shooting. She was also videotaped getting into an altercation with members of Ortiz's entourage at the hospital hours after he had been shot.

Rodriguez admonished those spreading the rumors.

"It's shameful that there's been all these assumptions about a person of the caliber of David Ortiz," he said. "I will not rest until all the people involved are arrested. No act of this nature can go unpunished."

The Dominican criminal justice system is regarded as one of the most corrupt in the world. In a 2011 report, Amnesty International cited the National Police for widespread extortion, corruption and bribery.

On "Mut & Callahan" this week, longtime Red Sox security official Eddie Dominguez, who has extensive contacts in the Dominican, said he doesn't expect law enforcement to tell the true story.

"David is very popular in the D.R. He's loved there, no question about that," Dominguez explained. "I'm sure they're going to try to put the best spin possible on it, but I'm not quite sure you'll ever get the whole story from the Dominicans. I think the only way you'll get to the bottom of this is if United States law enforcement officials get involved."

David Ortiz's wife, Tiffany, said in a statement Tuesday her husband's condition has been upgraded to "good." He is still recovering at Mass General.