Blues community mourns loss of tourist brutally beaten to death in New Orleans hotel room

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 9:43 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A tourist brutally killed while visiting New Orleans will be laid to rest Saturday (Dec. 10) in his Missouri hometown.

David Sorenson, 73, lost his life in what authorities are calling a random act of violence as he and his wife were staying in the Avenue Plaza hotel.

“He was just a wonderful man,” Mike Edsel, Vice President of the Washmo Blue Society of Missouri, remembered him. “I can’t say enough about him. A beautiful soul.”

Sorenson, a financial advisor, was a huge lover of music, a musician with an encyclopedia of blues knowledge.

Avenue Plaza Hotel
Avenue Plaza Hotel

Members of the Washmo Blues Society in Missouri are still trying to wrap their heads around what happened to their friend.

“In shock,” Edsel continued. “The more we hear about it and the story behind this who walked in, apparently off the street, walked through the lobby and got on the elevator.”

More: Tourist killed in St. Charles Avenue hotel was victim of random violence, NOPD says

Police say surveillance video from the hotel shows the suspect, 29-year-old Martin Hurtado, get off the elevator, shortly before a fire alarm was pulled and people started exiting their rooms.

Martin Hurtado, 29, was booked with second-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 1 beating...
Martin Hurtado, 29, was booked with second-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 1 beating death of 73-year-old David Sorenson inside the Missouri tourist's St. Charles Avenue hotel room.(Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office)

Court documents show Sorenson’s wife told police they were asleep and woken up by the fire alarm and a knock at their hotel room door.

She reportedly told detectives she opened the door and Hurtado pushed her inside the room, saying “I’m not here. Don’t tell anyone I’m here.”

She says she ran towards the bathroom, fearing for her life, and said she could see Hurtado punching her husband in the face before she bolted out of the room to find help.

“The officers went into the room. They had a male in the bedroom section of the hotel room. He was down and looked like he had trauma to his face,” New Orleans Police Captain Ryan Lubrano said.

The parish coroner says Sorenson died of blunt force injuries.

“It is just horrible what happened to Dave,” Edsel says. “To be taken that way, it’s awful. He was a good man. Anytime he was asked to come up, he would participate and be a part of anything and everything. He had the smiles.”

Sorenson spearheaded fundraising efforts for the Killer Blues Headstone Project, which provides headstones for blues musicians in unmarked graves.

Edsel says they have planned a special funeral service for Sorenson on Saturday, where harmonicist Amanda Fisch and others will play some of his favorite music to remember the life and legacy he leaves behind.

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