The suspected gunman in the coordinated attack on former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic is also wanted in connection with two 2017 armed robberies in New Jersey, officials said.
Rolfi Ferreira-Cruz, also known as Ramon Martinez Perez, 25, who Dominican authorities said confessed to shooting Ortiz on Sunday at a bar in Santo Domingo, was charged on Jan. 5, 2018, with multiple counts of armed robbery. He was also charged with aggravated assault and various weapons offenses, including possession of hollow point bullets, in the 2017 armed robberies in Clifton, New Jersey, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Thursday.
On the night of Dec. 22, 2017, police responded to reports of separate armed robberies that occurred about an hour apart in Clifton, New Jersey, authorities said. In each incident, a man said he was robbed at gunpoint by a group of men. Ferreira-Cruz was later identified as one of the alleged robbers.
Three suspects were arrested in connection with the robberies but police said Ferreira-Cruz, whose last known address was in Reading, Pennsylvania, evaded capture.
Ferreira-Cruz is one of several men who received 400,000 Dominican pesos, or about $7,800, to kill Ortiz, authorities said Wednesday. Ortiz is a native of Dominican Republic.
Ortiz, 43, was at the Dial Bar and Lounge in the eastern part of Santo Domingo on Sunday night when a gunman fired once at close range, hitting him in the back, authorities said.
Jhoel López, a local television host who is friends with Ortiz, had received a leg injury from the same bullet that struck Ortiz, according to police. Lopez was released from the hospital on Monday.
Ortiz’s gallbladder and part of his intestines were removed during an operation in Santo Domingo immediately after the attack. His liver was also damaged.
The Red Sox airlifted Ortiz, affectionately known as Big Papi, to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he’s now recovering in its intensive care unit.
Ortiz is now conscious and has been able to walk, his wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said Thursday, in a statement that was released by the Red Sox.
“His condition is guarded and he will remain in the ICU for the coming days, but he is making good progress towards recovery,” his wife said.