Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (CNN) — Legendary Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has landed in Boston after the team sent a plane for him in the Dominican Republic.
Ortiz’s return to the United States comes 24 hours after the 43-year-old was shot in the back Sunday night and “the bullet went through his stomach,” Felix Durán Mejia, a spokesman for the national police, told CNN. Sam Kennedy, Red Sox president and CEO, said Ortiz’s condition is serious, but he was stable enough to be flown. Ortiz will be taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, Kennedy said.
Police said Ortiz was shot at a nightclub in his native Santo Domingo. He was taken to the Clinica Abel Gonzalez, where he was in intensive care after being treated for bleeding in his liver and having portions of his intestines and gall bladder removed, said Leo Lopez, Ortiz’s media assistant.
Dr. Jose Abel Gonzalez, who assisted in Ortiz’s surgery, said during a press conference Monday that Ortiz 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 to 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.
“We deeply regret the incident that was the victim @DavidOrtiz, one of the most supportive Dominicans I have known and someone who has filled a lot of pride to our Dominican Republic,” Medina tweeted. ” With God’s help we expect his early recovery as well as that of @JhoelL Ópez.”
Suspect Eddy Vladimir Féliz García of nearby Santo Domingo West, its own city, and another man approached the Dial Discotheque on a motorcycle before at least one opened fire, hitting Ortiz and his friend, police said in a statement. They tried to drive away, but the motorcycle fell to the pavement.
The crowd attacked Féliz García and handed him over to police, while the second suspect fled on foot, police said. The suspect was treated at Hospital Dr. Dario Contreras in Santo Domingo and is now in custody, police said.
Ortiz does not know the man being held or why he was shot. But Lopez said Ortiz is confident the shooting was not a robbery attempt.
Video shows gunman open fire
Surveillance footage from the club shows an area of packed tables. Club goers are drinking, mingling, and fiddling with their phones when a shooter approaches from the top of the screen, the short video clip shows.
Only a shooter’s legs are visible when a shot is fired, appearing to hit 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.
Television host Jhoel Lopez, who was with David Ortiz, was also shot, according to his wife, Liza Blanco.
“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. “But thank God he is stable.”
Hours before the shooting, Lopez posted a photo of Ortiz posing alongside him, flashing a peace sign. The caption said, “You know that we are from the street.”
Santo Domingo’s Ministry of Interior and Police announced a “provisional closing” of the Dial Bar and Lounge Monday after the weekend shooting. The ministry’s Control of Alcoholic Beverages program initiated the closure.
The club has been given three days to give their account of what happened as police continue to investigate the shooting, the ministry said in a statement.
After a police officer’s ID card was shared on social media implicating him in the crime, the Dominican National Police released a statement denying any of their agents were involved.
“Our institution has no link to the event which occurred in the club Dial in the Venezuela Avenue, yesterday Sunday,” National Police said in a news release.
They cautioned the public against speculation and the spread of false information.
Suspects in custody
Multiple people have been detained in connection with the shooting, Durán Mejia said. Investigators are examining evidence in the case, including the suspect’s Bajaj Platina brand motorcycle.
National police have not formally interviewed Ortiz, said spokesman Capt. Luis Manuel Pimentel, adding that the former ballplayer was “pretty beat up.” Police will speak to Ortiz soon, he said.
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.
In 2004, he helped the Red Sox to their first championship since 1918, ending the so-called “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.
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