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Prosecutors drop murder charge against man in fatal shooting near Indianapolis speedway

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INDIANAPOLIS - Authorities have dropped a preliminary murder charge against a man accused in a deadly shooting near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the eve of the Indy 500 and freed him from custody.

Avory Johnson, 19, was released shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday, Marion County Jail spokesman Julio Fernandez said. No phone number for Johnson was listed in the Kokomo area and The Associated Press could not reach him for comment.

Marion County prosecutor's office spokesman A.J. Deer said there were problems with witnesses' identification of Johnson as the shooter. Neither he nor police elaborated.

Johnson had been jailed since he was arrested soon after the shooting death of 25-year-old Max Levine of Kokomo in a grassy field where fans park and camp out near the track about 2 a.m. Saturday. Levine's mother, Janice Bickel, had said her son had gone camping in the Coke Lot with a group of friends from Kokomo, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis.

Bickel said she wanted people to remember her son Max for the good things he did, not for the way he died.

"Max is not a vengeful person, and he never was," Bickel told The Indianapolis Star.

Police said the killing followed an argument.

A day later in the same lot, multiple people approached two men after 2 a.m. Sunday and one man was beaten and had his personal items stolen, Speedway Police Department Lt. Trent Theobald said. Theobald said the suspects fled and the second man chased them, but was shot. Both injured men were hospitalized.

Police have not released the men's identities and their conditions were not available Wednesday morning.

In a separate incident Sunday, an Indianapolis man told The Associated Press he was jumped by several young men and pistol-whipped at a makeshift bar in the Coke Lot, a series of sprawling grass lots where thousands of fans have camped out and partied on race weekend for years.

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Follow Charles D. Wilson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/_cdwilson

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