NASCAR's John Wes Townley Dead at 31 After Fatal Shooting

John Wes Townley, a former NASCAR driver, was killed on Oct. 2 during a "double shooting" in Georgia, authorities confirmed.

By Jess Cohen Oct 04, 2021 12:35 PMTags
Watch: In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2022

The sports community is speaking out following the death of John Wes Townley.

Over the weekend, the former NASCAR driver was killed in a "double shooting" in Georgia, an Athens-Clarke County coroner confirmed to the Athens Banner-Herald. He was 31. In a press release, spokesperson for Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Lt. Shaun Barnett, stated that when authorities responded to the incident around 9 p.m. on Oct. 2, Townley and a 30-year-old female had been shot.

"The initial investigation indicates that John Townley, 31, arrived at the Morton Avenue address that was occupied by Laura Townley, 30, and Zachary Anderson, 32, of Dunwoody, GA," the release notes. "Shortly after Mr. Townley arrived at the residence, there was an altercation between Mr. Townley and Mr. Anderson involving a hatchet. At some point during the altercation, Anderson fired several shots from his firearm. As a result, Ms. Townley and Mr. Townley were struck."

After being transported to a local hospital, Townley died as a result of his injuries, while "Laura Townley sustained serious injuries and is expected to survive." According to authorities, an investigation into the incident remains ongoing.  

Celebrity Deaths: 2021's Fallen Stars

Townley, the son of Zaxby's co-founder Tony Townley, retired from professional racing in 2017. After news of the shooting emerged, many fellow sports stars took to social media to mourn his death. "Damn. Rest Easy JWT," Bubba Wallace tweeted. "Heartbreaking."

Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Former professional racer Todd Bodine also mourned Townley's death online. "Absolutely devastating news about John Wes Townley," he tweeted. "Praying for his family and Friends."

While Fox Sports host Kaitlyn Vincie also tweeted, "Heartbroken for John Wes Townley's family. Absolutely devastating. Godspeed JWT."

Townley's family has yet to speak out publicly after his death.