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Former NASCAR Driver Killed After Allegedly Attacking Ex-Wife And Friend With A Hatchet Days After Divorce

John Wes Townley was fatally shot after showing up at a home and attacking his ex-wife Laura Townley and her friend Zachary Anderson, police said.

By Jax Miller
John Wes Townley Laura G

A former NASCAR driver was shot dead after allegedly attacking his estranged ex-wife and another man with a hatchet, according to police.

John Wes Townley, 31, was shot to death on Saturday evening after officers with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in Georgia responded to a call of a double shooting, police said. Authorities say John Townley arrived at a residence occupied by his ex-wife, Laura Townley, 30, and Zachary Anderson, 32. Townley allegedly attacked Laura and Anderson with a hatchet.

“Shortly after Mr. Townley arrived at the residence, there was an altercation between Mr. Townley and Mr. Anderson involving a hatchet,” police stated. “At some point during the altercation, Anderson fired several shots from his firearm. As a result, Ms. Townley and Mr. Townley were struck.”

Both Townleys were transported to the hospital, where John Townley succumbed to his injuries. Laura Townley “sustained serious injuries” but is expected to survive.

"Mr. Townley was shot in the upper body," Athens-Clarke Police spokesman Lt. Shaun Barnett told Oxygen.com. "An autopsy will determine the precise location of his injuries. Ms. Townley was shot in the area of her abdomen." 

“Preliminarily, we believe that her gunshot wound was accidental,” Barnett told Oxygen.com. “We are not ruling out that this could potentially be a self-defense case. Of course, we haven’t come to any final determination one way or the other, yet, as the investigation is still ongoing.”

Barnett told Oxygen.com that no charges had been filed.

The shooting took place only days after Laura and John’s divorce was finalized, according to People.

The nature of Laura Townley and Zachary Anderson’s relationship remains unclear.

“[That’s a] common question we’re still working to determine,” Barnett told Oxygen.com. “We know that they were acquaintances, but we’re still investigating and still looking into what exactly their relationship is.”

John Townley, whose father was co-founder of the Athens-based Zaxby’s fast-food chain, raced for NASCAR from 2008 to 2016, according to NASCAR. He was known for competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity series. 

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