“I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning. 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,” his attorney Michael Proctor tells PEOPLE. “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.”
He had pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor back in October 2017, agreeing to a plea deal in December that involved serving four to seven years in prison with a supervised release for 20 years.
Salling was out on bail, his sentencing set for early March.
Known for his role as Noah “Puck” Puckerman in the hit Ryan Murphy series from 2009-15, Salling’s other credits include a guest-role in Walker, Texas Ranger in 1999 and the TV Movie Rocky Road in 2014.
His death had Glee fans remembering Salling’s Glee costar Cory Monteith, who died at the age of 31 on July 13, 2013; his body was found in a Vancouver, Canada, hotel room. According to authorities, he died of a “mixed drug toxicity” of heroin and alcohol.
“Puck & Finn both gone 😭” one fan wrote, adding a GIF of the two. “R.I.P. Mark Salling & Cory Monteith.”
“FIRST CORY MONTEITH NOW MARK SALLING,” wrote another fan. “MY GLEE HEART CANT TAKE THIS😭”
Many were torn, however, given Salling’s conviction.
“Condolences to the family of Mark Salling,” said one fan. “He was obviously a lost soul, but no one is irredeemable. Rest In Peace.”
“RIP to @MarkSalling aka ‘Puck’ from my favorite show #Glee,” wrote another. “Even tho I don’t agree with what he did, I will never forget his amazing voice and his ability to make me laugh on the show .. so tragic.”
Federal investigators say they found more than 25,000 images and 600 videos depicting child pornography on computers and thumb drives that belonged to Salling. The content depicted children as young as 3 years old being abused, according to court documents.
Salling had to register as a sex offender and enter a treatment program; have no verbal or electronic contact with anyone under the age of 18; stay 100 feet away from schools, parks, public swimming pools, youth centers, playgrounds and arcades; and pay $50,000 in restitution to each victim, according to the documents.
Salling was arrested in December 2015 after investigators said the laptop, a hard drive, and a USB flash drive seized from his residence allegedly contained thousands of images and videos depicting child pornography. (His former girlfriend called police, according to the court documents.) In May 2016, he was named in a two-count indictment alleging he received porn involving young girls. But the trial was delayed that June as he sought new legal representation.
“Mark is focused on accepting responsibility and attempting to atone for his conduct,” Proctor said in a statement to PEOPLE at the time of his plea deal.