A promising young writer from Kentucky who gained national attention when his essay was featured on a popular comedy podcast was fatally shot Sunday, PEOPLE confirms.
A little after 9 p.m. Sunday, a family member called 911 to say Carl Garner, Jr., 19, had been found with a gunshot wound at a home in Lexington, the Lexington Police Department says in a statement.
The teen was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 9:30 p.m., say police.
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Police are investigating and have made no arrests in the shooting death.
As authorities search for answers, Garner’s family members are reeling from news of his death.
“This does not get any easier as time passes, the pain and anger only grows more by the minute,” his father, Carl Garner Sr. wrote in a Facebook post. “When I close my eyes all I see is my son’s lifeless body.”
Garner received national attention in January 2016 when an essay he penned about whether or not a hotdog was a sandwich was featured on the weekly national comedy podcast Judge John Hodgman, a former contributor on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Herald-Leader reports.
Hodgman even debated whether a hot dog is a sandwich when he appeared on CBS’s The Late Show with Steven Colbert in Dec. 2017.
After the podcast, officials in the local school district praised Garner for his well-written, persuasive essay, according to the Herald-Leader.
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Eric Little, the teacher who submitted the teen’s essay to the podcast, is grappling with the tragedy.
“It’s been a tough couple of days,” Little told the Herald-Leader. “Carl was real special to me and I’ve had a hard time with him going.”
Even at a young age, Garner’s character separated him from other kids his age, Little told the publication. “He had integrity that a lot of kids don’t have at that age. He could be very kind. He stepped up when it was necessary.”
Garner, he believed, had a promising future. “He was a kid I really hoped would make it,” he said. “He got encouragement. He got support.”