WASHINGTON, Mo. – A man was beaten to death in a New Orleans hotel on Thursday night.

The victim was identified as David Sorenson, a 75-year-old local businessman from Wildwood, Missouri.

Fred Gardner said he could not believe the news that his friend was killed. He met Sorenson six years ago, they used to play blues music and sing together.

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“I cried for the first time in 50 years,” Gardner said. “He’s probably the nicest guy you ever met in your life. He had a heart of gold. He had a good sense of humor, and he was just a good friend.”

Sorenson was a member of the Washmo Blues Society, and the Killer Blues Headstone Project, a nonprofit that provides headstones for blues musicians in unmarked graves.

He was beaten to death on Dec. 1 at the Avenue Plaza hotel in New Orleans. Police said 29-year-old Martin Hurtado was arrested and faced a second-degree murder charge.

“Not Dave. Dave’s not…Dave didn’t deserve to die like that,” Gardner said.

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“It was just unbelievable something like that would happen to somebody you know, that far away,” said Jerry Meyer. “A nice guy, it was unbelievable to us all.”

Meyer knew Sorenson through the Washmo Blues Society. He said he was a great musician and teacher. Sorenson always had something to teach about the blues, and he played the harmonica and the guitar.

“He must have thought a lot of us, or his wife did, also because they asked us to have somebody play at his funeral, play some songs at his funeral,” Meyer said. “So, we’re sending one of our representatives down to the funeral to play.”

Visitation will be on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Schrader Funeral Home and Crematory in Ballwin. Sorenson’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Living Word United Methodist Church in Wildwood.