(Reuters) – Police in the Dominican Republic were investigating why a man shot and wounded former Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz as he sat in a nightclub late on Sunday, police and the team said.
Ortiz, a 43-year-old retired baseball player still beloved in Boston for his role on three World Series-winning teams, was recovering in a hospital in Santo Domingo on Monday from a bullet wound to his back, the Red Sox said.
His friend Jhoel López, a television host, was also wounded in the incident, police said in a statement.
Two motorcycle-borne assailants drove up to the club, where one of them appeared to approach on foot and open fire, sparking a panic in which diners fled their tables, according to police and video of the incident posted by media.
Some at the club then beat one of the suspects before police took him into custody. He was later identified as Eddy Vladimir Féliz García.
Police said they were still searching for the other suspect, who fled on foot. Féliz García had been arrested in 2017 on drug possession charges, police said, adding they had seized the motorcycle used in the attack.
El Nuevo Diario published what it said was security camera footage of the moment of the shooting. It showed patrons at the bar suddenly fleeing, leaving toppled chairs behind them.
The former baseball star was out of surgery and in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery, his father, Leo Ortiz, told reporters in Santo Domingo, according to CBS.
“Big Papi will be around for a long time,” he said.
The surgery lasted about six hours, with doctors removing parts of his intestines, colon and gallbladder, ESPN reported, citing Leo Lopez, a spokesman for Ortiz.
Ortiz, who was in the intensive care unit, was flown to Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital late on Monday for further treatment, the Boston Globe newspaper and media said.
He arrived in Boston about 10:30 p.m., and media showed images of an ambulance driving him to the hospital.
City trauma surgeons told the Globe that Ortiz’s condition remained precarious.
The Red Sox said they were in contact with the family.
Ortiz started his career in 1997 with the Minnesota Twins, then played for the Red Sox for 14 seasons before retiring in 2016, according to Major League Baseball.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Ortiz’s fellow baseball stars were among those who expressed sympathy for the player and his family.
Ortiz was famously protective of Boston during his time with the Red Sox, and won international attention for a defiant speech in the days after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing in which he exclaimed “This is our fucking city” on national television.
Former Red Sox teammate Pedro Martinez called Ortiz a “strong man.”
“I’m at peace knowing you (are) out of danger,” he wrote on Twitter.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady extended his get-well wishes on Twitter, writing: “Papi defines Boston Strong … get well soon, my friend!!!”
Former U.S. President Barack Obama also wished Ortiz a speedy recovery, writing on Twitter that his “spirit and resolve helped us all begin to heal from the Boston Marathon bombing.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by G Crosse and Clarence Fernandez)