Former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley, 31, was shot dead by estranged wife’s new lover on Saturday
The former racer turned up at the house he previously shared with Laura Townley armed with an axe
Townley, 31, was shot 9pm on Saturday on Morton Avenue in Athens, Georgia
His estranged wife Laura and an unidentified 32-year-old man were at the home
Townley was shot dead by the man who police say was known to Townley
Laura, hit by gunfire in the altercation, was transported to the hospital with serious injuries
The pair who met on a dating app in 2016, were married in 2018, but had filed for divorce in February
Laura was residing at the Morton Avenue residence with a man, while John was living with his parents when the petition for divorce was filed
The divorce was still pending at the time of Townley’s death
‘We are not ruling out that this was potentially a self-defense case related to a domestic violence type incident. However, the investigation is still ongoing,’ but, the shooter has not been charged or interviewed, police said
A former NASCAR driver has been killed and his estranged wife injured after he went to a house with an axe before being shot dead by an unidentified man, according to a report.
John Wes Townley, 31, was shot just before 9pm on Saturday in the 200 block of Morton Avenue in the Five Points area of Athens, Georgia.
The house was occupied by Townley’s estranged wife, Laura, and a 32-year-old Dunwoody man, according to local site Classic City News.
Townley is then reported to have entered the property armed with an axe where the unidentified man shot him, accidentally hitting Laura Townley with gunfire in the process.
Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson identified the deceased victim as John Wes Townley, who had a driver’s license with the 240 Morton Avenue address, but was living with his parents in Oconee County at the time of the incident.
The ex-race driver, who is the son of the millionaire co-founder of fried chicken chain Zaxby’s, was rushed to hospital and later died of his injuries.
Laura Townley remains in a ‘serious’ condition, the report claimed.
According to court records, The Townleys were married in October 2018, and John Townley filed for divorce on Feb. 3 of this year on the grounds he and his wife were living in separation and their marriage was irretrievably broken.
Laura Townley was residing at the Morton Avenue residence with a man, when the petition for divorce was filed, court records note.
The divorce was still pending at the time of Townley’s death.
It is not believed that the couple had any children together.
The divorce case was still pending when John Townley was killed,’ Classic City News reported.
Police earlier said that a 30-year-old woman was injured. They have not identified her as Laura Townley.
The police have also not revealed the identity of the suspected shooter, referring to him only as a 32-year-old from Dunwoody.
When asked about the claims, Athens-Clarke County police spokesman Lt. Shaun Barnett said: ‘I can’t confirm any of those details right now.’
‘We are not ruling out that this was potentially a self-defense case related to a domestic violence type incident. However, the investigation is still ongoing,’ he added.
The shooter, who was known to Townley, has not been charged and has spoken to police, he said.
Barnett said that the investigation was ongoing but early indications were that it was a ‘domestic incident.’
Born in Watkinsville, Townley is the son of Tony Townley, whose fast food chain Zaxby’s owned and sponsored the cars he competed in.
He married nurse Laura Townley from Florence, South Carolina, after the pair met through dating app ‘Match’ in 2016. Figures from NASCAR, including former drivers and journalists who knew Townley have paid tribute to him online.
Jeff Hood, who works for the family business Zaxby’s, posted on Facebook: ‘For 17 years, I accompanied John Wes Townley to race tracks throughout the United States and Canada. He was a brother to me.
‘I spent a portion of Saturday afternoon Oct. 2nd catching up with him at the Arkansas/Georgia football game. Six hours later, his life on this earth concluded.
‘Behind the scenes, JWT was a caring, tender-hearted, compassionate person. That’s how I’ll always remember him. I miss you and love you, my dear friend.’
Townley started driving professionally in 2008 and recorded 186 starts across the Xfinity and Truck Series, NASCAR’s lower two national divisions.
His victory in the Truck Series at Las Vegas six years ago was the only national series win of his career. Townley’s car was sponsored by his father’s fast-food chain Zaxby’s.
Opened in 1990, the chain has more than 900 restaurants across 17 states and Tony Townley’s net worth is reported to be around $10 million.
The senior Townley stepped down from the company around a year ago after big investment from Goldman Sachs. Cofounder and high school buddy Zach McLeroy now runs the company.
The shooter has not been charged, according to police Lt. Barnett, who confirmed that the female victim was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.