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An intense manhunt continued in the Dominican Republic on Thursday for a suspect known as “The Surgeon,” one of seven men allegedly involved in the botched attempted hit on Red Sox legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz.
As the search for Luis Alfredo Rivas-Clase, 31, intensified, U.S. authorities said he’s also wanted for an attempted homicide in Pennsylvania that had striking similarities to the Sunday night shooting that left Ortiz with a bullet wound to the back.
The Berks County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to ABC News on Thursday that they have been looking for Rivas-Clase since April 2018, when he was identified as a suspect involved in the shooting of a man in Reading. That victim, like Ortiz, survived a bullet wound to the back.
“The victim stated Rivas-Clase threatened to have him killed a few days before the shooting occurred,” the Berks County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on its Facebook page following the April 22, 2018, incident.
Rivas-Clase, who previously lived in Redding, allegedly “did conspire with another suspect to shoot the victim,” the sheriff’s office statement reads.
On Wednesday, police in the Dominican Republic named Rivas-Clase as one of seven suspects involved in the brazen shooting of the 43-year-old former Red Sox slugger, who was shot from behind at close range as he sat at the outdoor patio bar of the Dial Bar and Lounge, a nightclub in Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital.
Police said six other men allegedly involved in the attack stalked Ortiz in a coordinated effort to kill him and collect a nearly $8,000 bounty placed on the retired Major League Baseball player’s head.
Dominican authorities have not revealed who ordered the hit on Ortiz or why he was targeted.
The suspected gunman who shot Ortiz was identified by police as 25-year-old Rolfy Ferreyra Cruz, who is one of the six suspects who was under arrest, according to police.
Ferreyra Cruz, according to Dominican police, allegedly confessed to shooting Ortiz.
Ferreyra Cruz is also believed to be the same man wanted in a pair of armed street robberies on Dec. 22 in Clifton, New Jersey, a detective lieutenant, Robert Bracken, with the city’s police department told The Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark, New Jersey.
Other suspects under arrest in the Dominican Republic were identified by police as Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia; Reynaldo Rodriguez Valenzuela; Joel Rodriguez Cruz; Oliver Moises Mirabal Acosta; and Polfirio Alende Deschamps Vasquez.
Surveillance video that captured Ortiz’s shooting showed a gunman police identified as Ferreyra Cruz walking up behind Ortiz, who was sitting at the bar, and opening fire before running away. In the footage, Ortiz appears to grab his stomach before collapsing.
Ortiz was rushed to a hospital in Santo Domingo and underwent an operation in which doctors removed parts of his liver and small and large intestines, officials said.
The Red Sox team chartered an air ambulance jet to fly Ortiz to Boston, where he underwent a second surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital late Sunday night.
“David remains in guarded condition in the surgical intensive care unit following his second surgery. He continues to heal and make progress,” Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany Ortiz, said in a statement released by the Red Sox on Thursday morning. “David will continue to recover in the ICU and future updates on his condition will be provided when necessary.”
Tiffany Ortiz also thanked the doctors and medical staff at the Abel Gonzalez Clinic in Santo Domingo for saving her husband’s life.
“Without you, our story could have had a tragic ending,” she wrote. “You will forever be our guardian angels.”