Dominican authorities say David Ortiz was accidentally shot last Sunday night. The guy whom we all saw run up behind Ortiz at the Dial Bar and Lounge, and fire a bullet directly into his lower back, actually meant to target someone else.
That’s right: one of the island’s national heroes was mistaken for another person, according to the Attorney General. Sarah Sanders would’ve been proud of his performance.
Jean Alain Rodriguez identified the shooter’s alleged intended target, Sixto David Fernandez, at the start of his brief press conference Wednesday. Apparently Fernandez’s cousin, Victor Hugo Gomez, is tied to drug-trafficking. Gomez, who’s currently a U.S. fugitive, blames Fernandez for turning him into U.S. law enforcement in 2011. So Gomez ordered the hit on Fernandez, paying $7,800 to more than a dozen men, 11 of whom are in custody. Fernandez frequents the Dial Bar and was sitting next to Ortiz that night. Big Papi was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, as his attorney insisted Tuesday.
That is the state-sponsored story, which loses its credibility once you look at a picture of Ortiz. The iconic slugger stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 230 pounds. It is hard to imagine anybody confusing Ortiz for somebody else, especially in his native country.
Now police are peddling the mistaken identity theory, which the Dominican people don’t even appear to believe. The Boston Globe interviewed numerous locals who say they think the police might be engaged in some sort of cover up. The National Police are regarded as one of the most corrupt forces in the world, according to Amnesty International. The U.S. State Department admonished their human rights record in a 2018 report, detailing widespread claims of abuse and life-threatening prison conditions.
Towards the end of Rodriguez's press conference, which didn't include any questions, he admonished those who are reporting on possible motives for the Ortiz shooting. “It’s shameful that there’s been all these assumptions about a person of the caliber of David Ortiz,” he told reporters. “I will not rest until all the people involved are arrested. No act of this nature can go unpunished.”
Those sound like comments from Ortiz’s attorney, not the highest law enforcement official in the nation. Speaking of Ortiz’s lawyer, he said Tuesday Ortiz wasn’t involved in any illicit activity that could’ve led to the shooting, and praised the investigation.
“I can say that David Ortiz is innocent in what happened. 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,” José Martínez Hoepelman said to the Globe. “What I can tell you is that I’m satisfied with the work the authorities have done so far. Obviously I have to wait to see what the family thinks, but as a lawyer, I’m happy with the work the authorities have done so far.”
Rodriguez and Hoepelman appear to be referring to the rumors of Ortiz’s relationship with Dominican model Maria Yeribell Martinez Garcia, who’s allegedly the wife of a drug kingpin. The Daily Mail reports Ortiz purchased Garcia an $85,000 Lexus one day before the shooting. She was also videotaped getting into an altercation with members of Ortiz’s entourage at the hospital the night he was shot.
According to the Daily Mail –– and New York Post and Daily News –– the drug kingpin ordered the hit on Ortiz.
On “Mut & Callahan” this week, former Red Sox security official Eddie Dominguez, who authored the tell-all book “Baseball Cop,” said it wouldn’t surprise him if Dominican police obfuscated the truth to protect Ortiz and/or other powerful characters who may be involved.
“David is very popular in the D.R. He’s loved there, no question about that,” Dominguez said. “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.”
The shooting happened 11 days ago, and even though at least 11 suspects have been arrested, it doesn’t seem like we are close to getting the real answers. Each time we hear from authorities, the case gets murkier.