Dominican Republic authorities said Wednesday the triggerman who shot retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz intended to snuff out the baseball legend’s friend — who was wearing similar clothes.
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez revealed the $8,000 hit job was against David Fernandez, a friend of Ortiz who was sitting at his table when he was shot at a Santo Domingo nightclub on June 9.
According to Rodriguez, the assassination attempt was ordered by a cartel member named Victor Hugo Gomez.
The shooting left Big Papi in intensive care.
Authorities believe the shooting was a coordinated assassination attempt, with convicted drug trafficker Alberto Miguel Rodríguez Mota paying for the hit.
Police have arrested 11 suspects.
Video released by authorities shows the shooter walking up to the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo and open fire on the 43-year-old at nearly point-blank range.
The bullet went through Ortiz’s abdomen before entering the leg of his friend, TV host Jhoel Lopez. But the round was meant for Fernandez, who was dressed similarly, authorities said.
Ortiz’s lawyer on Wednesday sought to defend his reputation, claiming he was an upstanding family man with no criminal connections.
“He has no connection to illicit activities, no relationships with people who have criminal connections, nor has he violated his family values that would bring about such an incident,” lawyer José Martínez Hoepelman told the Boston Globe.
Accused gunman Rolfi Ferreira Cruz also told reporters from prison that he didn’t mean to shoot Big Papi — a claim prosecutors initially dismissed as far-fetched, saying they found it hard to believe any Dominican would not recognize the country’s most famous athlete.
“It wasn’t David, it wasn’t for David … Was confused,” Ferreira Cruz shouted to journalists in Spanish through the bars of a police holding cell, according to local outlet El Caribe.
The 25-year-old claimed he was thrown off by the colors of Ortiz’s duds, Listin Diario reported.
Ortiz continues to recover in intensive care at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
On Wednesday Tiffany Ortiz revealed doctors had upgraded Ortiz’s condition to “good” and thanked the public for their support during what she described as a “challenging time.”