Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said the shooting was result of mistaken identity, and the target was another man, dressed similarly to Ortiz, who was seated with the ex-baseball star on the night of the shooting at a bar in Santo Domingo.
Rodríguez said the shooting was orchestrated by a member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, who remains on the run.
He did not immediately describe a motive.
At the time of the attack, Ortiz was with TV personality Jhoel López and the apparent target, a man named David Fernandez, at Dial Bar and Lounge, which once served as a casual hangout for people getting their cars cleaned across the street. Ortiz was sitting with his back to the street when he was shot once in the back by a bullet that also injured López.
The shooting was carried out by two men on a motorcycle who were followed by several suspects in two cars, authorities said.
Eleven suspects have been arrested, including the alleged shooter identified as Rolfy Ferreyra, aka Sandy, a skinny, tattooed 25-year-old whom U.S. prosecutors said is wanted on armed robbery and gun charges in New Jersey.
The other suspects include Joel Rodríguez de la Cruz, aka Squiddy; Reynaldo Rodríguez Valenzuela, aka The Chinaman; Franklin Junior Merán, aka Rubirosa; Porfirio Ayendy Dechamps Vásquez, aka Kid; and Eddy Vladimir Feliz García, aka The Package, who was identified as the alleged motorcycle driver.
Authorities said García was captured and beaten by angry fans after he skidded and fell off his bike as the pair tried to flee. García’s attorney has said his client is an Ortiz fan and had no idea his passenger was going to commit a crime.
The weapon used in the shooting, a Browning Hi Power semi-automatic pistol, was buried in the garden of one of the suspect’s home and was later turned over to police by his mother, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Rodríguez said the shooting was orchestrated by a man named Victor Hugo Gomez, whom he described as a member or associate of the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico’s major drug-trafficking organizations.
Officials did not say why Gomez would have targeted Fernandez.
James Wagner, a reporter for The New York Times, tweeted: “Authorities said the alleged target was wanted by Victor Hugo Gomez because he thought he’d talked and gotten him imprisoned.”
Gomez was believed to be in the United States and was being sought by the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte, director of the Dominican Republic’s national police.
Ortiz remains hospitalized from the gunshot wound to his back.
Doctors have upgraded his condition from “guarded” to “good.”
Ortiz, a three-time World Series champion, had to have his gallbladder and part of his intestine removed.
Doctors who cared for him at a Dominican Republic hospital told The Washington Post that his injuries were “lethal.”
“The injuries he had were lethal, even separately, if they wouldn’t have been taken care of right away, especially the one on the liver,” Jose Smester told the newspaper. “But in that moment, you don’t think about death, you think about what you have to do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Frank Miles