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Former NASCAR driver, 31, fatally shot after attacking ex-wife with hatchet, police say

TODAY logo TODAY 10/4/2021 Tim Fitzsimons

A former NASCAR driver was fatally shot Saturday night in Georgia as he attacked his ex-wife and another man with a hatchet, according to police.

Police responded to a call at a residence in the Five Points neighborhood of Athens and found two people shot. Laura Townley, 30, was seriously injured, and her ex-husband, former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley, 31, was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Laura Townley — whose divorce from John Wes Townley was "finalized this week," according to the police incident report — was at the residence with Zachary Anderson, 32.

"A preliminary investigation revealed that Mr. Townley had arrived at this location and attacked Mr. Anderson and Ms. Townley with a hatchet," the Athens-Clarke County Police Department wrote in an incident report.

"Mr. Anderson fired several shots from his gun which struck Mr. Townley and accidentally struck Ms. Townley," police wrote.

Related: William “Rowdy” Harrell and his new bride Blakley Harrell were tragically killed in a car crash while on their honeymoon in the Florida Keys.

Laura Townley is expected to survive, police said in a press release.

Jon Wes Townley raced eight seasons and made 186 starts across the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series, NASCAR's lower two national divisions. His victory in the Truck Series at Las Vegas six years ago Sunday was the only national series win of his career.

He drove a car owned by his father, Tony Townley, who was a co-founder of the vehicle's primary sponsor, restaurant chain Zaxby’s.

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