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Police say former NASCAR driver attacked ex-wife with hatchet before being shot

John Wes Townley was the son of Tony Townley, a co-founder of Zaxby's.

ATHENS, Ga. — A former NASCAR driver and the son of a co-founder of Zaxby's was killed in a double shooting in Athens Saturday evening after police say he attacked his ex-wife and a man with a hatchet.

Athens-Clarke County Police responded to a shooting just before 8:45 p.m. along the 200 block of Morton Avenue in the Five Points neighborhood. When officers arrived, they found 31-year-old John Wes Townley, of Athens, and a 30-year-old woman shot. 

Authorities said both of them were taken to the hospital where Townley died due to his injuries. Authorities said his ex-wife is expected to survive.

Investigators learned that Townley reportedly went to the home and attacked his ex-wife and another man inside with a hatchet. At some point during the fight, the other man fired several shots, hitting both Townley and Townley's ex-wife.

Police have not said whether any charges will be filed against the shooter.

According to NBC Sports, Townley competed in NASCAR from 2008-2016. He took part in 110 Camping World Truck Series races and 76 Xfinity races. 

John Wes Townley was the son of Tony Townley, a co-founder of Zaxby's fast-food chain.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this July 19, 2014, file photo, John Wes Townley speaks at a news conference after qualifying for the Arca Racing Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Former NASCAR driver Townley was killed Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in a shooting in Georgia that also wounded a woman, investigators said. Townley, 31, died in the shooting in a neighborhood around 9 p.m., Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson told the Athens Banner-Herald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)


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