Gaetano Thomas Oteri, a music publisher in Nashville, was fatally stabbed in the wrist with a pocketknife Saturday night by his friend, songwriter Rich Fagan. The murder happened after a drunken fight in the Nashville home the two shared, say police.
But Brian Oteri told The Tennessean that the scenario was out of character for his father, who rarely drank to excess. “I can't remember him once raising his voice to me. He would be the referee in any family argument. Dad never let things go too far.”
Music industry friends of Oteri, 69, and Fagan, 61, who wrote two No. 1 hits for country star John Michael Montgomery, were stunned by the murder. They recall Oteri as someone who had come to Fagan's aid.
"This news is absolutely shocking," one music industry insider told PEOPLE. "No one can believe it. Rich lived hard, but Tom sort of kept him in line. He was very much a fatherly figure to Rich."
The Tennessean reports that Cheri Oteri, who has declined to comment on her father's death, was on her way to Nashville from out of state on Monday afternoon.
Fagan has been charged with criminal homicide and is being held without bond.
Reporting by KAY WEST.