David Ortiz returned to Boston on Monday night, a day after the former Red Sox slugger affectionately known as Big Papi was ambushed by a gunman at a bar in his native Dominican Republic.
The 43-year-old retired athlete had been in stable condition in intensive care at a Santo Domingo hospital after doctors removed his gallbladder and part of his intestine, according to his spokesman, Leo Lopez. He said Ortiz's liver was also damaged in the shooting Sunday night.
Dominican National Police Director Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte said Ortiz was at the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo around 8:50 p.m. Sunday when a gunman approached from behind and shot him at close range. Ortiz was taken to the Abel Gonzalez clinic, where he underwent surgery, and his condition was stable, Bautista said.
Ortiz's father, Leo, speaking to reporters outside the clinic, said his son was out of danger and there wasn't any collateral damage, meaning no damage to major organs. He said he had no idea why someone would have shot at his son.
"He is out of surgery and stable; he is resting," Leo Ortiz said. "Big Papi will be around for a long time."
The Boston Red Sox, in a statement early Monday, said they were notified by Ortiz's family that he sustained a gunshot wound to his "lower back/abdominal region" and that he is recovering after surgery.
The Red Sox said they are doing everything they can to support Ortiz. The team's medical staff confirmed Ortiz's condition is still serious, but he was stable enough to be transported back to Boston for continued care.
"The events of last night shook our Red Sox family to its core," team President and CEO Sam Kennedy said at a press conference Monday. "David Ortiz is one of the most celebrated and beloved members of the Red Sox family. On behalf of our entire organization, our thoughts and prayers are with David."
He said the team arranged for a medical air ambulance to transport Ortiz to Boston from the Dominican. The plane arrived at Logan Airport around 10 p.m. Monday, and Ortiz was then taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for further treatment of his injuries.
Kennedy called Ortiz "probably the most beloved and one of the most important players in our history."
"Leading us to multiple World Series championships, an active member of the community. I'd be hard pressed to think of anyone more beloved than David. It's a very difficult day for the organization," he said.
"It's been a tough one," added Red Sox Manager Alex Cora, a former teammate of Ortiz. "I just hope when he gets here, everything is fine and we can see that big man again with us, filling a room with joy."
The alleged gunman was captured and beaten by a crowd of people at the bar, Bautista said. He said police are waiting until the man undergoes treatment for his injuries before questioning him.
Investigators are trying to determine whether Ortiz was the intended target, Bautista said.
Eliezer Salvador, who was at the scene, said the gunman said nothing, just fired once. Salvador then drove a wounded Ortiz to the hospital, telling reporters they had a brief conversation in the car as he urged the baseball great to stay calm and breathe.
"Do you have any problems with anyone?" Salvador recalled asking him, to which Ortiz replied: "No, my brother, I've never wronged anyone."
Two other people were wounded, Bautista said, including Jhoel Lopez, a Dominican TV host who was with Ortiz. Bautista said police believe Lopez was wounded by the same bullet.
Lopez was shot in the leg and his injuries were not life-threatening, said his wife, Liza Blanco, who is also a TV host.
Police did not identify the third person or detail that person's injuries.
The Dial Bar and Lounge is located in eastern Santo Domingo on Venezuela Avenue, a bustling nightlife district packed with dance clubs and pricey bars that Ortiz is known to frequent. Ortiz, who lives at least part of the year in the Dominican Republic, is often seen getting his cars washed and hanging out with friends, including other baseball players, artists and entertainers.
The man who shot Ortiz has been identified as 25-year-old Eddy Feliz Garcia, ESPN's Enrique Rojas reported Monday morning, citing a police spokesman.
Ortiz hit 541 homers in 20 major league seasons, including 14 with the Red Sox. He helped lead Boston to three World Series titles and retired after the 2016 season. He was a 10-time All-Star and World Series MVP in 2013.
Ortiz galvanized the city after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three people dead, bellowing through a megaphone at Fenway Park: "This is our (expletive) city!"
"In 2013, when we needed David Ortiz the most, he was there for us," Kennedy said Monday. "Our focus is on his health and on getting him back here for treatment."
Fans were shocked to learn of the shooting.
"Wow... that's just so sad," Kyle Etienne of Boston said. "I honestly can't believe it. Shocking, shocking."
"I'm glad that he's gonna be OK," added Nathan Oldakowski of Boston. "He's like a brother of the city. Someone we can rally around."
Numerous athletes and other celebrities offered their thoughts on Twitter following the shooting: