Baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz was shot in 2019 on the orders of a Dominican drug lord who felt disrespected by the slugger and wanted him dead, a six-month investigation into the botched hit has revealed.
The former Red Sox slugger was shot in the back at a bar in Santo Domingo with TV host Jhoel López.
Thirteen suspects were awaiting trial in the non-fatal shooting, and the alleged mastermind of the gang-affiliated crew was murdered last fall.
A private investigator report commissioned by Ortiz revealed that Caesar “The Abuser” Peralta put a bounty on the ballplayer’s head following a series of interactions with Ortiz that left feeling politically tied to the drug kingpin, the Boston Globe reported on Saturday.
The finding, which was denied by Peralta’s attorney, contradicted Dominican Republic investigators, who had speculated that the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. The private investigation was led by former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and Ric Prado, a former CIA official.
The conflicting reports left Ortiz feeling “sad, confused, angry, all kinds of emotions,” according to the newspaper.
“I accept what Ed and Ric are telling me, but how come no one in the Dominican justice system told me that was how it happened?” Ortiz would have said. “Instead, it’s the opposite.”
Ortiz hired Davis and Prado to investigate the incident in 2019 after growing concerned about the integrity of the DR’s file, the Globe reported. The prosecutor who led the investigation has since been jailed on unrelated corruption charges.
“To be honest, when you live in a country where justice is corrupt, you want to believe [what the government alleges] but you will also disagree, and that was what was happening at the time,” Ortiz reportedly said.
Ortiz told the newspaper that his relationship with Peralta was “casual.” The suspect was extradited to the United States from Colombia in December to face drug trafficking charges in Puerto Rico, according to the federal government.
Private investigators reportedly discovered that Peralta’s alleged motive for attempting to kill Ortiz stemmed from jealousy and perceived slights.
When Oritz retired in 2016, he became a fixture in Santo Domingo’s nightclub scene and frequented many establishments owned by the drug trafficker, according to the article.
Peralta would greet the designated hitter and pose for pictures with him, but eventually grew envious of the attention Ortiz would receive at his clubs, Davis and Prado reportedly found.
At one point, Ortiz lived just below Peralta in a luxury condominium in Santo Domingo and complained about a loud party at Peralta’s house, which investigators said insulted him.
The 5ft 5in drug dealer was also reportedly offended that the building became known to locals as ‘Big Papi Tower’.
“Like other great cowls, Peralta’s ego is so big that he couldn’t afford to have his power usurped,” Prado told The Globe.
He “was the king of the streets, the king of the clubs and the biggest shark in the water. If anyone tried to usurp that power, consciously or unconsciously, they would take it personally.
Ortiz said his confidence in Dominican officials had been restored since a new election was held, but he was upset by the disconnect between their findings and the conclusions of his investigators.
“I’m in a tough spot because we’re dealing with dangerous people,” Ortiz reportedly said. “I’m pretty sure this guy is sitting in jail right now thinking about what he’s going to say or do. I have no intention of living my life in hiding.