ATHENS, GEORGIA — John Wes Townley was shot to death Saturday evening after attacking his ex-wife and another man. Athens-Clarke County police say that the incident occurred when Townley, 31, showed up at a residence that Laura Townley, 30, reportedly shared with another man, 32-year-old Zachary Anderson.
According to police, John got into an altercation with Laura and Anderson, and attacked Anderson with a hatchet. Anderson, who was armed, fired multiple rounds at John striking him in the chest. Laura suffered an accidental gunshot wound to the abdomen during the chaos. Both Townley’s were transported to a hospital, where John died from his wounds and Laura’s injuries were described by police as serious.
It is believed that the Townley’s recently finalized a divorce after John reportedly filed a petition in February; however, a police spokesman indicated that his agency was still trying to confirm whether the divorce had been finalized or not. Police are also trying to figure out the nature of the relationship between Anderson and Laura Townley.
In 2019, John Wes Townley was charged with family violence battery, simple battery and disorderly conduct after he allegedly assaulted Laura, who was then his wife. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was given a fine and a year of supervised probation.
Townley was a competitor in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and Truck Series between 2008 and 2016, scoring two poles, 23 top-10 finishes and a win. Several months after getting engaged to Laura Townley in 2017, he retired from the sport and the racing team, owned by his father and Zaxby’s chain founder Tony Townley, shut down.
An investigation is ongoing, police said, and no charges have been filed.