Friends mourn death of young gay Atlanta man

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A 24-year-old gay Atlanta man is being mourned by friends shocked over his death on Friday, saddened that the life of the cheerleader, model and fun-loving guy was cut short.

Friends turned Josh Nicholson's Facebook page into a makeshift memorial on Friday after learning of his death. The Atlanta native was a competitive cheerleader at Kennesaw State as recently as 2012. Before that, he cheered in high school.

David William, his boyfriend, offered this:

There are some people who come into your life, and have more of an impact than you could ever imagine. I've learned so much about myself in past 8 months. I have changed into the person that at sometimes I was afraid to be, solely because of one person's love and support. I have never loved someone more than I did Josh, and it's more than unfair that our time was cut so short. He was my best friend and more than I could ask for in a partner. He will truly be missed by everyone who knew him. I love you so much Josh!

A cousin, Christie Nicholson, added this:

My heart hurts to hear such sad news. Please keep my cousin Josh Nicholson, his family and everyone who knew him in your prayers. He left this world too short. Rest in Peace. You were a Great Model and Cheerleader!! You were loved by so many people and we will ALL miss you. Love ya

Jared Velazquez posted this tribute:

In shock right now!! Just found out I lost a fellow team mate and friend tonight. Josh you were an amazing cheerleader. So sad to hear your time here in this world was cut short. You will truly be missed by many! This season I will dedicate my time on the mat in your honor! Godspeed my friend.

Nicholson enjoyed being the life of the party, wowing guests with his costumes at the annual Jerusalem House Halloween fundraiser, including his Indian costume this year, and enjoying the Joining Hearts pool party. He also sometimes worked at Blake's and Swinging Richards. He also modeled. In 2013, Fenuxe magazine featured him on the cover of its Pride issue. 

On his Facebook page, friends questioned the circumstances of Nicholson's death. At least one pointed to an AJC report about the discovery Friday morning of a body in the ventilation system of a parking garage on Peachtree Street.

When Atlanta police responded about 9:45 a.m. on Friday to 1075 Peachtree Street, they found the body of a deceased male in the ventilation system on the seventh floor of a parking garage, according to an incident report. The structure is part of the massive 12th & Midtown mixed-use development that includes retail space, the Loews Atlanta Hotel and apartments. 

“The preliminary investigation suggests that the victim somehow made his way into the ventilation system of the parking garage on the 7th floor of the parking deck and was found deceased inside a fan compartment,” according to an incident report.

Police said there were no obvious signs of foul play.

Late Friday, an Atlanta police spokesperson referred questions to the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office, which is investigating the death. An investigator at that office told Project Q Atlanta the agency was in the process of notifying the victim's family. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday.

Neither agency would confirm the identity of the man found in the parking garage.

UPDATE | On Saturday, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office confirmed that the man found in the parking garage was Nicholson. An autopsy was conducted on Saturday. A cause of death won't be made until the completion of an investigation determining how Nicholson ended up in the ventilation system, according to the medical examiner's office. The results of routine toxicology results are also pending. 


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