David Ortiz shooting highlights crime plaguing Dominican Republic, slugger had called on police chief to ‘take care of’ it
David Ortiz had previously called on the Dominican Republic’s police chief to clamp down on crime in a country still plagued by violence, drug trafficking and money laundering.
Years later, his plea seemingly unheeded, the retired Red Sox slugger, affectionately known as Big Papi and a national hero in the Dominican Republican, is holed up in a hospital room after being shot at a Santo Domingo bar at near point-blank range
“I like to go to my country, and I know that people love you and take care of you,” he told an ESPN reporter in 2015. “But [the street hustlers] are doing their thing, and they are not in their right mind, no matter who is who, and I do not want to walk with an AK-47 over a car there, I do not want to go full of guns there because I’m not a gunslinger, and I’m not a problem of any kind.”
Oritz hoped that the country’s head of police would take more steps to increase security.
“We cannot live in that anxiety that every time you go out of your house, a [thug] comes and takes away what you have on you,” he added. “Many people are losing their lives. Our country is a diamond that we have to take care of and defend fully and hope that things improve”
David Ortiz was shot at a Dominican Republic bar on Sunday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Ortiz, who made nearly $160 million over his 20-year career, also repeatedly referred to growing up amongst gang violence and drug trafficking in his 2017 autobiography “Papi: My Story”, writing that “it had a devastating effect on the culture then, and it’s still a huge problem now.”
The slugger is now recovering at a Massachusetts hospital while police continue their investigation into the shooting. Authorities have so far arrested at least two people in the incident.
One suspect was identified as Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, who is expected to face an accomplice to attempted murder charge for his alleged role in the targeting shooting, according to the Boston Globe. However, his lawyer, Devi Solano, insisted Garcia was just an innocent motorcycle driver who had no idea who he was driving.
“He is David Ortiz’s number one fan,” Solano told the Boston Globe. “Since [Ortiz] won the World Series in 2004, he has cut out articles and pictures of Ortiz and put them on his walls.”
The second person arrested in the investigation wasn’t identified. There was no public indication the man was the suspected shooter. Police haven’t revealed a motive behind the shooting.
Ortiz, 43, was at the bar with reggaeton singer El Sujeto and TV personality Jhoel Lopez. The bar was described as a place where Dominican celebrities ate and drank alongside people who have made money in shady business dealings, according to the Associated Press.
A friend told the Associated Press that Ortiz felt safe in his hometown whether or not he had run into unsavory figures in the Santo Domingo social scene.
“He felt protected by the people,” his friend told the Associated Press. “He is one of the most loved people in the Dominican Republic. He felt no fear despite the fact that there’s street crime here. Even the guys in the dangerous neighborhoods respected him.”