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David Ortiz was not the intended target of murder plot, officials say

The intended target was a friend of Ortiz who was sharing a table with the baseball star at the time, the attorney general of the Dominican Republic said.
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Former Red Sox star David Ortiz was not the intended target of a murder plot and was accidentally shot in the Dominican Republic, officials said Wednesday.

The bullet that struck Ortiz in the back at the Dial Bar and Lounge on June 9 in the eastern part of Santo Domingo last week was meant for Sixto David Fernández, in what authorities have described as a murder-for-hire plot. Fernandez, a friend of Ortiz's who frequents the bar, was sharing a table with the baseball star at the time.

Jean Alain Rodríguez, the country's attorney general, said Wednesday he personally interviewed Ortiz. The baseball icon, known as "Big Papi," told Rodríguez he had no idea who would want him dead.

The attorney general said that authorities believe Victor Hugo Gómez Vasquez, a fugitive believed to be part of the Del Golfo drug cartel in Mexico, orchestrated the alleged hit.

Rodríguez claimed that the shooter confused Ortiz with Fernández because they were both in light colored pants. In video shown by the police, however, the man identified as Fernandez appears to be wearing dark jeans.

Vasquez and Fernández are cousins, authorities say, and Vasquez was allegedly retaliating after Fernández turned him in to Dominican drug investigators in 2011.

Dominican officials have arrested 11 suspects in the alleged plot, including the alleged shooter. At least three of the suspects in custody met Vasquez in prison, officials said Wednesday.

Surveillance footage released by authorities showed Ortiz crumpled to the ground after a gunman came up from behind and opened fire at close range.

Ortiz is conscious and has been able to walk, according to his wife, Tiffany Ortiz. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital upgraded Ortiz's condition to "good" on Tuesday after surgeons on the Caribbean island removed his gallbladder and part of his intestines.

At least 10 of the suspects in custody have already been ordered to spend a year in preventive detention as the investigation continues. Authorities are still looking for three other people who may be involved in the alleged hit, including the man they think paid almost $8,000 for the hit. U.S. are aiding in tracking down the remaining suspects, Rodríguez.