Former NASCAR Driver Is Fatally Shot, Allegedly After He Attacked His Ex and Man with Hatchet

John Wes Townley, 31, competed in dozens of NASCAR national touring series

John Wes Townley
Photo: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty

Former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley was killed in Georgia Saturday after allegedly attacking his ex-wife and an acquaintance with a hatchet, according to a police incident report obtained by PEOPLE.

Athens-Clarke County police said officers responded to a call around 9 p.m. Saturday of a woman with a gunshot wound to the abdomen in the 200 block of Morton Avenue in the Athens Five Points area.

At the scene, officers found Laura Townley, 30, and 31-year-old John Townley, with a gunshot wound to the chest.

"A preliminary investigation revealed that Mr. Townley had arrived at this location and attacked [Zachary] Anderson and Ms. Townley with a hatchet," states an Athens-Clarke County Police Department field case report. "The Townleys' divorce had been finalized this week."

At some point during the altercation, Anderson, 32, allegedly fired several shots from his firearm, striking both Townleys.

"Preliminarily, it appears that her wound was done accidentally," ACCPD spokesperson Lt. Shaun Barnett tells PEOPLE.

The shooting occurred at the Townley residence. "I believe Ms. Townley was residing there at the time," he says.

Barnett says Anderson, who was not injured, is an acquaintance of Laura Townley's.

"We are not ruling out that it is potentially a self-defense type incident," says Barnett. "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.

John Wes Townley
Tim Bradbury/NASCAR via Getty

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Both Townleys were transported to a local hospital, where John Townley died. Laura Townley is expected to survive her injuries.

Townley competed in dozens of NASCAR national touring series between 2008 and 2016, including a 2015 Truck Series race in Las Vegas, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact Detective Black at 762-400-7058.

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