An Indy 500 shooting has left one man dead and a 19-year-old facing a murder charge after a fight in a parking lot near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway turned deadly.
Police said Avory Johnson of Indianapolis killed 25-year-old Max Levine after the two had gotten into an argument. Speedway Police Lt. Trent Theobald said Levine was shot in Coke Lot 1 at close to 2 am on Saturday. The parking lot is a popular place for fans to set up tents and party in the weekend before the race.
Levine was there with a group of friends from Kokomo, a town about 50 miles from Indianapolis. Family members say Levine was a dedicated father who was taking classes at Ivy Tech Community College.
“He was a great guy. He was an excellent father and a wonderful son. He was very focused on where he wanted to go,” said Levine’s mother, Janice Bickel.
Witnesses said they weren’t sure if the shooting was real at first or just more of the rowdy partying that has taken over in the area near the Indy 500 raceway.
“We heard pop, pop, pop,” said John Morris, 27, of Indianapolis. “And I said, ‘Those are gunshots.’ And I thought it was just someone showing off.”
Local residents say the celebrations outside the Indy 500 have grown more dangerous in recent years.
“I’ve come every year for 12 to 14 years,” said Jennifer Coy, an Indianapolis resident. “The kids are getting rowdier and rowdier — young and dumb, they don’t control their alcohol.”
Theobald admitted it is often difficult for police officers to keep up with the level of drunken violence before the Indy 500.
“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.”
This isn’t the first Indy 500 shooting. In 2012, a fan was shot in the chest after an argument near the speedway.
But Theobald said Max Levin is the first person killed in his 16 years with the Speedway Police Department.
“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,” he told the Indianapolis Star.
Avory Johnson is being held without bail for the Indy 500 shooting.