Plot that wounded Ortiz unraveled because of many mistakes

Published 8:16 am Friday, June 21, 2019

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Alberto Rodríguez Mota had one job: taking a photo of the man that his crew of hired killers was supposed to fatally shoot at an outdoor cafe, according to Dominican authorities.

But the lighting was bad. And the target, an auto-shop owner, was sitting behind a white beverage cooler. In the photo sent to the hit man, he looked like a dark, blurry figure in white pants, the Dominican police chief and attorney-general said.

Hours later, on the evening of June 9, the hitman approached a hulking figure in a dark top and white pants and fired a single shot into his back. Instead of killing his intended target, he had wounded David Ortiz, the baseball superstar almost universally adored in his native Dominican Republic and much of the sports-loving world.

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As the former Red Sox slugger lay on the floor of the Dial Bar and Lounge, the hitman’s motorcycle driver skidded in a panic and was grabbed by enraged fans, who beat him bloody before handing him over to police. Within an hour of being put into motion, the plot began to unravel.

A series of amateurish mistakes soon led to at least 11 arrests. The hired killers seemed to be incapable of doing anything right, from targeting their victim to covering their tracks.

As Ortiz recovers in a Boston hospital, officials say he was the victim not of a bizarre plot against a beloved sports figure but a string of incompetent criminal mishaps that included misidentifying the most famous Dominican in the world, an instantly recognizable 6-foot-3 inch, 250-pound international celebrity.

“It’s like they left this in the hands of boys,” said Daniel Pou, an independent consultant on public security. “Without a doubt, it was amateurish.”

According to the official account, Mota sat down by himself at the bar in Santo Domingo, ordered a beer and waited.