Former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley was killed in a double shooting Saturday night in Athena, Georgia.
The Athens-Clarke County Police Department responded to a report of a shooting at about 9 p.m., ACCPD spokesman Lt. Shaun Barnett said, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.
Townley, 31, and a 30-year-old woman had both been shot, Barnett said.
Townley died after being taken to a hospital. The woman was alive with serious injuries, he said.
Police said that a 32-year-old man from Dunwoody, Georgia, was a suspect in the shooting but had not been arrested. They did not identify the man but said they were in contact with him.
Barnett said the incident has a link to domestic violence.
The newspaper reported that Townley had an ax with him when he entered the house. Police would not confirm whether that was accurate.
Townley’s death was mourned on social media.
Damn. Rest Easy JWT. Heartbreaking
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) October 3, 2021
I knew John Wes Townley since he entered the sport.
He always treated me well, said hi and we checked in with each other once in a while when he left the sport.
I am saddned to hear about what happened and my thoughts and prayers are with all the parties involved. #NASCAR
— Chris Knight ?? (@Knighter01) October 3, 2021
RIP John Wes Townley
You deserved better ? pic.twitter.com/Op42j75Sb1
— Talhadega?️??? (@TiberiusYet1) October 3, 2021
Stunning news about John Wes Townley. I liked taking with him. I thought he’d be mad at me because I was always all-in on the Chicken Man jokes, but he was good-natured about it. #NASCAR https://t.co/rNhtitBrKu pic.twitter.com/wWho09omQm
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) October 3, 2021
Townley began racing at the age of 19 in the Xfinity Series but crashed in seven of his 26 starts, according to Yahoo Sports.
In his career from 2008 through 2016, he made 76 Xfinity Series starts and 110 Truck Series starts. He finished first in the 2015 Truck Series race in Las Vegas.
Townley began competing in the Truck Series in 2012.
In 2015, he finished eighth overall, with eight top-10 finishes in 23 starts.
Townley’s father, Tony Townley, is a co-founder of the chicken chain Zaxby’s. The chain helped sponsor him throughout his racing career.
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