Baseball / MLB

Suspect in custody in ambush shooting of retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz

Reuters

Police in the Dominican Republic were investigating on Monday why a man shot and wounded former Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz as he sat in a nightclub late on Sunday, according to police and the team.

Ortiz, a 43-year-old retired baseball player still beloved in Boston for his role on three World Series-winning teams, was recovering in a hospital in Santo Domingo on Monday from a bullet wound to his back, the Red Sox said. His friend, Jhoel Lopez, a television host, was also wounded in the incident, police said in a statement.

The pair of assailants drove up to the club on a motorcycle late Sunday where one of them appeared to approach on foot and open fire, sparking a panic in which diners fled their tables, according to police and video of the incident posted by local media.

Some at the club then beat one of the suspects before police took him into custody. He was later identified as Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia.

Police said they are still searching for the other suspect, who fled on foot. Feliz Garcia had been arrested in 2017 on drug possession charges, police said, adding they had seized the motorcycle used in the attack.

El Nuevo Diario published what it said was security camera footage of the moment the shooting occurred. It showed patrons at the bar suddenly fleeing, leaving toppled chairs behind them.

The former baseball star was out of surgery and in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery, his father, Leo Ortiz, told reporters in Santo Domingo, according to CBS.

“Big Papi will be around for a long time,” he told reporters.

The surgery lasted about six hours, with doctors removing parts of his intestines, colon and gallbladder, ESPN reported, citing Leo Lopez, a spokesman for Ortiz.

Ortiz remained in the intensive care unit on Monday, but was expected to be flown to Boston later for further treatment, ESPN said.

The Red Sox said they were in contact with the family.

Ortiz started his career in 1997 with the Minnesota Twins, then played for the Red Sox for 14 seasons before retiring in 2016, according to Major League Baseball.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Ortiz’s fellow baseball stars were among those expressing sympathy for Ortiz and his family.

Ortiz was famously protective of Boston during his time with the Red Sox, and won international attention for a defiant speech in the days after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing in which he exclaimed “this is our fucking city” on national television.

Former Red Sox teammate Pedro Martinez called Ortiz a “strong man.”

“I’m at peace knowing you (are) out of danger,” he wrote on Twitter.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady extended his get-well wishes on Twitter, writing: “Papi defines Boston Strong … get well soon my friend!!!”

Former U.S. President Barack Obama also wished Ortiz a speedy recovery, writing on Twitter that his “spirit and resolve helped us all begin to heal from the Boston Marathon bombing.”