David Ortiz Takes First Steps After Surgery, Man Arrested in Shooting Charged

By Zachary Stieber

Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz took his first steps on June 11 following multiple surgeries as he recovers from being shot in the back on June 9.

Ortiz was at a club in his native Dominican Republic Sunday night when he was ambushed by two men. He was rushed to a nearby hospital to undergo emergency surgery, with doctors taking out parts of his intestines and liver and his entire gallbladder.

Ortiz took his first steps after being shot on Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he arrived late Monday after being flown from his home country, reported ESPN.

The retired slugger’s wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said in a statement Tuesday that Ortiz was “stable, awake, and resting comfortably this morning in the ICU where he is expected to remain for the next several days.”

An ambulance carrying David Ortiz is escorted to Mass General Hospital in Boston on June 10, 2019. (Nathan Klima/The Boston Globe via AP)

“On behalf of me and my family, I want to thank John and Linda Henry, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, and the Boston Red Sox for all that they are doing for David and our family, as well as Dr. Larry Ronan and the amazing staff at Massachusetts General Hospital,” she added.

David Ortiz’s media assistant, Leo Lopez, told ESPN that Ortiz was in surgery until about 1 a.m. on June 11. Lopez said that Ortiz has been conscious, that he spoke to his family, and “even flashed that family.”

Surveillance video from the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo showed two men arrive outside the establishment on a motorcycle before both got off and approached Ortiz. One had a gun and shot him.

The men tried getting back on the bike but it fell over. The driver was captured by bystanders, who beat him until police arrived. The other fled the scene.

Eddy Vladimir Féliz Garcia, in custody in connection with the shooting of former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, is transferred by police to court in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on June 11, 2019. His lawyer, Deivi Solano, said Féliz Garcia had no idea who he’d picked up and what was about to happen, and that he expected Féliz Garcia would be charged as an accomplice to an attempted murder. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)

The motorcyclist, Eddy Vladimir Féliz Garcia, who had a 2017 arrest for drug possession, was one of several people in custody as of Tuesday afternoon, a law-enforcement official said on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release details of the investigation.

A police car carrying Garcia drove up to a shipping container serving as a makeshift courtroom on Tuesday evening, and sat there for about a half-hour before driving off again. Court officials said the hearing had been delayed because Garcia’s charging documents had not arrived in time. He was brought back at about 10 p.m. for charging.

A spokesman for prosecutors, Erick Montilla, said Garcia was charged as an accomplice to an attempted murder.

His lawyer, Deivi Solano, said Garcia had no idea who he’d picked up and what was about to happen when he stopped to take a fare. “He didn’t know what they were going to do. He’s a fan of David’s,” Solano said.

Investigative police collect evidence at the site where former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was shot the previous night inside the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on June 10, 2019. Dominican National Police Director Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte said Ortiz was at the bar around 8:50 p.m. Sunday when a gunman approached from behind and shot him at close range. (AP Photo/Luis Gomez)

Later, Julieta Tejeda, spokeswoman for the national prosecutor’s office, told reporters via WhatsApp that a second arrest had been made in the investigation. She declined to provide further details.

Friends said that Ortiz, who spent much of his time in the Dominican Republic after retiring in 2016, relied on friends and fans to keep him safe.

“He felt protected by the people,” the friend said. “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.”

Ortíz flew from Boston to Santo Domingo on May 5 to enroll his teenage son, a promising baseball talent, in one of the island’s grueling “academies” for future stars, the friend said. He also wanted to check on his foundation, which sponsors surgery for sick children, and sign a cigar-promotion deal.

david ortiz in parade
Former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz looks on during the Boston Red Sox Victory Parade in Boston, Massachusetts on Oct. 31, 2018. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

On Sunday night, he went out with the reggaeton singer known as El Sujeto and baseball announcer and TV personality Jhoel Lopez to Dial, a bar and cafe that started as an arm of a luxury auto-detailing business across the street.

In recent years, Dial turned from a site where people relaxed as their cars were cleaned to a hotspot where Dominican celebrities eat and drink, often alongside people with fortunes of dubious origin.

Dial sits in a wealthy and relatively safe section of Santo Domingo, but the Dominican Republic is one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

The murder rate stands at 12.5 killings per 100,000 people, placing the Dominican Republic in the top 10 to 15 percent of the most violent countries in the world, according to the U.S. State Department. There were 1,353 reported killings in 2018, compared with 1,561 in 2017 and 1,616 in 2016, the department said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.