INDIANAPOLIS - The mother of a man killed at the Coke Lot the day before the Indianapolis 500 spoke publicly for the first time this weekend to beg police to find her son's killer.
Twenty-five-year-old Kokomo resident Max Levine was shot and killed around 2:30 a.m. on May 24 of this year while camping out at the Coke Lot ahead of the Indianapolis 500.
A 19-year-old Indianapolis man was arrested that day in connection with the murder, but was eventually released after police failed to separate witnesses during the identification process.
Three months later, Levine's mother, Jan Bickel, is still looking for answers.
"I have a hard time sleeping at night, just because I can't figure out how Max was in the situation he was in," Bickel said. "They talked about a fight breaking out, and Max wasn't the type of person who went looking for a fight."
Hundreds of people were in the Coke Lot at the time of the shooting. It was Levine's first time in the area, and his mother says she had a bad feeling about it from the beginning.
"He said, oh mom, I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be with 20-30 people," she said. "That made me feel a little bit easier, but at the same time I was a little worried about him down there."
It wasn't long after that conversation that Bickel received a phone call she will never forget. On the line was one of her son's friends with the news that Levine had been shot.
"It's not just that your heart's broken, it's that a part of you is now gone and missing, and it's deep, deep within you," Bickel said. "There's just a hole there."
Bickel said Levine, who would have turned 26 this summer, had joined the local carpenters union and was taking classes at Ivy Tech.
Levine was also a father to a 3-year-old girl named Maddison.
"He was really focused on what he was doing," Bickel said. "He was trying to make things good for him and his daughter."
Bickel said her granddaughter is helping her get through the tragedy.
"I can't tell you how much she's helped me through this," she said. "Because it's just a little part of him, still."
This weekend, Bickel urged the people who know what happened to Levine to talk to police.
"I'm hoping that somebody out there comes forward, says, 'I know the guy that shot Max, and I'm willing to come forward and make things right for his family,'" she said.
A $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads police to the person responsible.
Callers can remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.