New insight into the unexpected death of former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley has come to light… and it is startling.
According to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, in the moments before a “double shooting” in Georgia on Saturday, it was John who was on the attack — going after his ex-wife and another man with a hatchet. Yes, a hatchet.
TMZ Sports obtained legal documents which stated the shocking incident took place at John’s ex-wife Laura Townley’s house in Athens. The race car driver allegedly showed up and snapped — prepared to attack his ex and the other man, identified as Laura’s friend Zachary Anderson. It is unclear what set John off.
In an effort to stop the attack, Anderson shot John during the altercation. Unfortunately, he also hit Laura in the process. The retired driver was shot in the chest and died at the local hospital. He was just 31 years old. Police believe Laura will survive after she was struck in the abdomen.
An investigation into this incident is still ongoing, according to cops. The legal documents did note that John and Laura had finalized a divorce this week. So obviously there were some heartbroken and even bitter feelings in the mix. But a hatchet?
This scary attack does begin to explain previous reports that the shooting was a result of domestic violence as well, suggesting those issues were between the recent divorcees. Showing up to an ex’s house with a hatchet is seriously horrifying, but the authorities have yet to confirm whether the shooting that followed was solely a “self-defense type incident” or not. Lieutenant Shaun Barnett told People:
“We are not ruling out that it is potentially a self-defense type incident. Preliminary report indicates that to be the case. But, of course, it is still under investigation. It is very early on in the investigation.”
No charges have been filed against Anderson at this time.
NASCAR fans will remember Townley as the winner of the Camping World Truck Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2015. He started racing when he was 19 years old, funded by his father’s chicken-chain restaurant Zaxby’s, which sponsored his team.
Innerestingly, Townley was known almost as much for his temper as for his driving — his most famous clip from a race is still the time he attacked a fellow driver after a crash.
Townley retired from racing in 2017, after competing in around 76 races. Many took to social media to mourn his loss on Sunday, albeit before anyone was aware of the complicated nature of his last moments.
We’re wishing Laura positive vibes as she recovers from this traumatic event.
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