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David Ortiz is being treated at a Boston hospital as Dominican Republic police investigate shooting

Posted: 10:43 AM, Jun 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-11 10:43:48-04
David Ortiz is being treated at a Boston hospital as Dominican Republic police investigate shooting

A day after David Ortiz was flown to Boston to recover from a gunshot wound, police in the Dominican Republic are working to find out why the legendary former Red Sox slugger was attacked in his native country.

Ortiz, 43, was being treated Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital, two days after he and a friend were shot at a nightclub in Santo Domingo.

The Red Sox, for whom the retired athlete starred for years as he endeared himself to fans across New England, sent a plane to collect him Monday after he had surgery in the Dominican Republic.

Ortiz was shot in the back, and "the bullet went through his stomach," Felix Durán Mejia, a spokesman for the Dominican Republic National Police, told CNN.

Before he was flown to the United States for further treatment, he was treated in his homeland for bleeding in his liver and had portions of his intestines and gallbladder removed, said Leo Lopez, his media assistant.

Ortiz's condition was serious Monday, but he was stable enough to be flown to Massachusetts, said Sam Kennedy, the Red Sox president and CEO.

One suspect is in custody, and investigators are looking for at least one other man in connection with Sunday night's shooting, police said.

The reason for the shooting wasn't immediately clear. Ortiz, who was awake after surgery, does not know the man being held or why he was shot, and he's confident it was not a robbery attempt, Lopez said Monday.

Dr. Jose Abel Gonzalez, who assisted in Ortiz's surgery in the Dominican Republic, said during a press conference Monday that the former ballplayer asked to see his family as soon as he opened his eyes.

"He finds himself in a good state of mind," Gonzalez said.

The doctor also said that they hope Ortiz's recovery "will be the shortest possible," and that he expects Ortiz will return to life the "same as before" following recovery.

"On behalf of the Ortiz family, David Ortiz's work team, I want to thank the press but especially this medical team," said Ortiz's father, Leo.

Video shows gunman open fire

Ortiz and his friend Jhoel Lopez, a television host, were shot Sunday night at the Dial Bar and Lounge in the Dominican Republic's capital.

Surveillance footage from the club shows an area of packed tables. Clubgoers are drinking, mingling and fiddling with their phones when a shooter approaches from the top of the screen, a short video clip shows.

Only a shooter's legs are visible when a shot is fired and apparently hits a seated Ortiz in the back. Ortiz slumps to his left and falls out of his chair. Frightened bystanders knock over chairs as they flee.

Ortiz's agent, Fernando Cuza, who has seen the video, confirmed to CNN that the man who falls from his chair is Ortiz.

Jhoel Lopez was also shot, according to his wife, Liza Blanco. His condition was stable Monday, Blanco said, according to CNN affiliate Telesistema.

"They were both on their backs. It was very fast. He doesn't remember much because he was also in shock from the bullet wound," Blanco told reporters in Spanish.

One suspect is in custody, and another is on the loose

One suspect is being held after bystanders captured him, and another man is on the loose, Dominican Republic authorities say.

Eddy Vladimir Féliz García and the second man arrived at the Dial nightclub Sunday on a motorcycle before one of them eventually opened fire, police said.

They tried to drive away after the shooting, but the motorcycle fell to the pavement, police said.

A crowd attacked Féliz García and handed him over to police, while the second man fled, police said. The suspect was treated at Hospital Dr. Dario Contreras in Santo Domingo and is now in custody, police said.

Féliz García has a 2017 drug charge and lives in Las Caobas, West Santo Domingo, police said.

Santo Domingo's Ministry of Interior and Police announced a "provisional closing" of the Dial Bar and Lounge on Monday after the weekend shooting. The ministry's Control of Alcoholic Beverages program initiated the closure.

The club has three days to give its account of what happened as police investigate the shooting, the ministry said.

After a police officer's ID card was shared on social media implicating him in the crime, the Dominican Republic National Police denied any agents were involved.

"Our institution has no link to the event which occurred in the club Dial in the Venezuela Avenue, yesterday Sunday," the National Police said in a statement.

Beloved in Boston

Ortiz, also known as Big Papi, was reared in Santo Domingo and made his Major League Baseball debut in 1997.

The first baseman and designated hitter played 20 seasons before retiring in 2016. While Ortiz's major league career began with the Minnesota Twins, he is best known for his 14 seasons in Boston as the Red Sox's designated hitter.

Why Ortiz is beloved beyond baseball

In 2004, he helped the Red Sox to their first championship since 1918, ending the "Curse of the Bambino. Fans, mostly tongue-in-cheek, blamed the team's decades-long championship drought on the 1919 decision to trade legend Babe Ruth, aka the Bambino, to the rival New York Yankees.

Ortiz was also on the Red Sox title teams of 2007 and 2013. He was named World Series MVP in 2013.

The 2013 championship came just months after the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 200 others. Ortiz emerged as a champion for the city in the bombings' aftermath, and his tribute to Boston the day after police captured the bomber gained national attention.

"This jersey that we wear today, it doesn't say Red Sox. It says Boston," Ortiz said, standing on the infield as the crowd cheered police officers who were on the field.

"This is our f***ing city, and nobody's going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong," he said.

In his career in the majors, Ortiz hit 541 home runs and had a career batting average of .286. In the 2013 World Series, he batted .688 with two home runs, six RBIs and eight walks, finishing with a .760 on-base percentage.

Ortiz retired after the 2016 season, and the Red Sox retired his number in 2017. He will be eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame at the end of 2021.

Red Sox honor Ortiz at Fenway Park

The Red Sox and other professional athletes sent Ortiz, a married father of three, prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery as news of the shooting surfaced.

"The events of last night shook our Red Sox family to its core," Kennedy said. "David Ortiz is one of the most celebrated and beloved members of the Red Sox family. On behalf of our entire organization -- our thoughts and prayers are with David."

The team held a "moment of reflection, thought and prayer" for Ortiz at Fenway Park before the team's game Monday against the Texas Rangers.

Red Sox Manager Alex Cora became emotional about Ortiz during a press conference Monday.

"It's hard to believe, you know. Like I said, just keep praying, stay positive and when he comes back he will be taken care of and he'll be back with us," Cora said.

"He'll be in that clubhouse with that big smile and that huge heart. ... Back home they talk about superheroes without capes, and he's a superhero without a cape. That's the way we see him so he'll be OK."

The-CNN-Wire