Man killed in shooting near Indy 500 track, suspect charged

INDIANAPOLIS — Avory Johnson has been arrested on a preliminary charge of murder in the slaying of Max Levine, according to the Speedway Police Department.

Johnson, 19, was taken to the Marion County Arrestee Processing Center.

Levine, 25, was unresponsive when found by police with gunshot wounds at Coke Lot 1C, near West 30th and Georgetown Road, shortly after they received the call at 2:09 a.m. that a shooting had occurred.

Levine, of Kokomo, Ind., was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities didn't immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment, but Marion County Jail spokesman Julio Fernandez confirmed that Johnson is being held without bond on a charge of murder.

Lt. Trent Theobald, a spokesman for the Speedway Police Department, said it was the first homicide near IMS on the weekend of the Indianapolis 500 in his 16 years with the agency.

Theobald said "two groups had a verbal altercation and one thing led to another" before the shooting.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway released a statement Saturday saying that the investigation by local police is continuing and that they are cooperating "to help in any way that we can."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those involved in this incident," the statement said.

Kokomo native Brandon Wood, a former Valparaiso and Michigan State basketball player, tweeted this morning: "RIP to my bro Max smh (shaking my head)…another sad day in the Mo."

Levine had a 3-year-old daughter. His grandmother, Linda Bickel, said he had just started training as an apprentice carpenter and had formerly managed a convenience store. He was a football player at Kokomo High School.

"We've had people who loved him coming in and out of here all morning," she said. "He was that kind of kid."

Levine's mother, Janice Bickel, said her son went to Carb Day with "about 20 or 30" friends from Kokomo, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. The group, she said, had RVs and tents for camping.

The Coke Lot is a popular spot across the street from the speedway, where Indy 500 race fans have set up tents and partied on race weekend for decades.

On the day of the Indianapolis 500 in 2012, a fight led to a man being shot at 1 a.m. on the 2600 block of Georgetown Road. The victim was in critical condition but he survived.

Theobald said law enforcement will not change its plans in the wake of the homicide.

"It doesn't matter how many police officers you have in that area, you'll always have alcohol-fueled incidents," Theobald said. "That's a large area. It's a multi-agency effort. ... Unfortunately, we still have fights and this fight led to a shooting. The response time was faster than usual, which is why we were able to find witnesses, which led to the arrest."

Theobald said the investigation is ongoing and witnesses are being interviewed.

Speedway Police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to contact Detective Lauren Roemke at the Speedway Police Department.

Alesia writes for The Indianapolis Star

Contributing: The Associated Press


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