The divorce between John Wes Townley and former wife Laura Townley was just finalized when the former NASCAR driver, who retired in 2017, decided to attack her and was subsequently shot dead, Georgia police report. The former driver was 31 years old.
John Wes Townley arrived at his former wife Laura Townley’s Five Points Atlanta home armed with a hatchet and, during the ensuing altercation with police, the former Nascar driver was shot as he attempted to attack Laura and Zachary Anderson, a 32-year-old guest of her home. Anderson responded to John Wes Townley’s incursion, firing several shots during the altercation.
“A preliminary investigation revealed that Mr. Townley had arrived at this location and attacked Mr. Anderson and Ms. Townley with a hatchet,” the police report reads in part.
“At some point during the altercation, Anderson fired several shots with his firearm,” Officer Lt. Shaun Barnett told the New York Post, referencing the official report of the incident.
John was struck in the chest and later declared dead at a local hospital in Atlanta while Laura was hit in the abdomen by one of Anderson’s bullets. Though a serious injury, Laura Townley is expected to survive.
Reports indicate that the couple had just finalized their divorce. Townley, who participated in 76 NASCAR races between 2008 and 2016, had one victory during his career at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2015. He participated primarily in the Nascar Xfinity and Truck series with his one victory in Vegas coming from the latter.
The couple reportedly married in 2018 but experienced marked difficulties since that time. While it is unknown what exactly motivated John Wes Townley to drive to Laura’s home on Morton Avenue, but the presence of a hatchet likely indicates that he intended on harming the occupants within. Given this set of circumstances, no charges are currently pending for Laura Townley’s guest, Zachary Anderson. Police believe that Laura’s crossfire injuries were accidental and, again, the attempted entry into her home with a hatchet on the part of her ex-husband underscored a real sense of danger that both she and Zachary Anderson likely experienced.
Reports indicate that Townley attacked the pair within Laura’s home but there are no reported injuries to Zachary Anderson himself. Because of this, no charges are expected in the shooting though the investigation is still ongoing as of publication. The police have emphasized that this is still an open investigation and will update the public accordingly as new information is revealed.
Townley is a Georgia native and son of Zaxby’s founder Tony Townley. Townley drove a car owned by his father and sponsored by the chicken chain.
Townley’s death came as a shock to the world of Nascar with fellow driver Bubba Wallace tweeting in response, “Damn. Rest Easy JWT. Heartbreaking.”
Fox Sports Bob Pockrass echoed these sentiments, calling Townley’s fate a tragedy.
NASCAR on FOX host Kaitlyn Vincie added, “Heartbroken for John Wes Townley’s family. Absolutely devastating. Godspeed JWT.”