The man accused of shooting baseball legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz has been wanted for a pair of street robberies in Clifton last year, Daily Voice has learned.
Rolfi Ferreira Cruz, 25, of Reading, PA, “admitted that he was the person who fired at former baseball player David Ortiz,” the National Police in the Dominican Republic said in a release.
“The investigators indicated that the weapon used was a pistol mark HI-POWER” that was recovered after another man hid it, the National Police said.
They also said that Cruz – known as “Sandy” – was among a group of seven men offered $7,800 to shoot the baseball great Sunday night at an entertainment center in Santo Domingo.
No motive was offered. Robbery was discounted.
Ortiz was recovering at Massachusetts General Hospital after being shot in the back.
Clifton police in January 2018 turned to the public for help finding Cruz and another man suspected in pair of street holdups.
Cruz was with a group of others who held up two men blocks apart last month, they said at the time.
The first victim, a 26-year-old Passaic man, told police he was accosted on Hope Avenue near Highland Avenue around 7 p.m. Dec. 22, 2017 by robbers wearing masks and brandishing handguns.
The group pulled him onto a dark driveway, took his belongings and fled, he told police.
About an hour later, the same crew pulled the same robbery o a 41-year-old Clifton man as he walked in the area of Lake and Van Winkle avenues, authorities said.
Clifton Police Officer Christopher O'Brien was searching for suspects when he spotted the group in the area of Madison Street and Vreeland Avenue.
They took off, police said.
With the assistance of Passaic police and the Passaic County Sheriff's Department, a perimeter was set up and the area was searched.
Around 9:40 p.m., two sheriff's officers found and arrested two suspects hiding in a Vreeland Avenue backyard -- Dalvin Cruceta-Espinal, 19, and a 16-year-old boy, both from Paterson -- authorities said.
Two handguns tossed away while the suspects fled from O'Brien were recovered, they said.
Clifton detectives the next few weeks began identifying and pursuing two more suspects. Two more handguns also were recovered.
Arturo Hart, 20, of Passaic, surrendered after learning that he was wanted.
Police continued searching for Cruz.
A grand jury in Paterson later returned an indictment charging him with armed robbery, aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, employing a juvenile in a crime and a variety of weapons charges -- including possession of a BB gun.
An arrest warrant out of Passaic County remains in effect, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Clifton Police Chief Mark P. Centurione said Thursday afternoon, confirming Daily Voice's report from Wednesday night.
SEE: Clifton police turned to the public for help finding a man suspected of participating in a pair of street holdups.
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