AceShowbiz - Mark Salling has died in an apparent suicide weeks before his sentencing in child porn case. The "Glee" alum was found hanging from a tree near a riverbed in Sunland, the area where he lived, law enforcement sources tell TMZ.
"I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning," the actor's attorney said in a statement on Tuesday, January 30. "Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment. He is survived by his mother and father, and his brother. The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected."
Sources say a family member came to the LAPD station at 3 A.M. Tuesday to report Salling as a missing person. Police then did a "welfare check" on Salling and somehow that led them to the baseball field where his body was found.
"He was found hanging from a tree in the area of the Los Angeles River in Sunland," Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter confirms to PEOPLE. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9 A.M. An autopsy is scheduled for the next few days, but homicide detectives who are investigating scene say all sings point to suicide by hanging.
Salling, who played Noah "Puck" Puckerman on FOX's musical series "Glee", had been staying under the radar as he awaited sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography involving prepubescent minors. He was arrested in 2015 after investigators found more than 50,000 images of child porn and child erotica on his personal computer. The prosecution recommended 4 to 7 years in prison under the plea deal.
A few months ago, Salling reportedly attempted to commit suicide by cutting his wrists before striking a plea deal in his child porn case. According to TMZ, the actor cut his wrists in the bedroom of his L.A. area home on August 22, but then he "freaked out" and screamed for his roommate, who then called 911.
He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. He was reportedly taken for psychiatric evaluation and days later was taken to a rehab facility for psychological issues. His attorney, however, denied the story, saying, "Mark is physically fine and Mark is spending his time atoning and working on himself."
Following the news of Salling's passing, his former "Glee" co-stars have paid tribute. Matthew Morrison, who played Will Schuester, posted a photo of him with Salling and Cory Monteith, who died of an overdose in 2013. He captioned it with two angel emojis and a frown emoji in the center.
Jane Lynch, who played cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, told TMZ, "It's sad and very tragic." She added, "It's tragic and I'm brokenhearted over it." She also said that she would remember him "as the guy who made that really sweet video in the beginning of 'Glee' when he was so happy to be a part of this group."
Iqbal Theba, who played Principal Figgins on the show, expressed his shock by simply writing on Twitter, "Oh Mark."
Oh Mark— iqbal theba (@iqbaltheba) January 30, 2018
Tim Davis, a vocal arranger on the show, posted on Twitter, "Today we lost another #Glee cast member.Yes, he committed crimes against children.Yes, it's horrific. But #MarkSalling was a broken man, no doubt an abuse victim himself. I loved Mark, and am sad when I consider the devastation of his parents. PLEASE withhold your cruel comments."
Today we lost another #Glee cast member.Yes, he committed crimes against children.Yes, it's horrific. But #MarkSalling was a broken man, no doubt an abuse victim himself. I loved Mark, and am sad when I consider the devastation of his parents. PLEASE withhold your cruel comments.— Tim Davis (@loudmouthmuch) January 30, 2018
He continued in another tweet, "Let me be clear. Having compassion for #MarkSalling in no way minimizes his crimes, nor does it minimize the pain and devastation of the victims of those crimes. I'm just saying stop adding to his family's pain. This was their son. If you're without sin, feel free to cast stones."
Let me be clear. Having compassion for #MarkSalling in no way minimizes his crimes, nor does it minimize the pain and devastation of the victims of those crimes. I'm just saying stop adding to his family's pain. This was their son. If you're without sin, feel free to cast stones.— Tim Davis (@loudmouthmuch) January 30, 2018