Tim Robles shows off a shadow box that friends and fellow co-workers made in remembrance of Kelly Acosta, which features some of his personal belongings and favorite things, Aug. 14 at the Emerald Isle. Kelly, who was an employee at Emerald Isle, was gunned down in February, while helping his neighbor, who was being assaulted in front of her home. Photo by Philip B. Poston/Aurora Sentinel

AURORA | Six months have passed since Kelly Acosta was gunned down after he tried to stop a robbery outside his Aurora apartment.

For Acosta’s massive and tight-knit group of friends, many of them regulars or employees at the Emerald Isle, where he worked as a bartender, the still unsolved slaying irks them as much today as it did last winter.

“We lost a family member that day,” said Brittany Allen, who works at Emerald Isle. “He wasn’t just a friend, he was family.”

Police early this month announced a $40,000 reward for information about the popular Aurora bartender’s slaying.

Acosta, 29, was gunned down early Feb. 18 in the 4000 block of South Crystal Circle. Police said the shooting, which occurred in the parking lot of an apartment complex near East Quincy Avenue and Parker Road, happened after Acosta tried to stop a robbery.

“The case remains unsolved, and there are still many questions that remain unanswered. It is believed that there is somebody out there who has information about Acosta’s killer,” police said in a statement announcing the increased reward.

The reward had previously exceeded $25,000 but police said it had climbed to $40,000 because of a $10,000 donation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and other sources.

The bulk of the money, police said, is coming from a fund set up by Acosta’s friends and family.

Derek Calkins, one of Acosta’s friends, said money started pouring in from the many people who cared about Acosta shortly after his slaying.

That generosity speaks volumes, he said.

“It says everything about Kelly,” Calkins said

Michelle Robles, a regular at Emerald Isle, said Acosta wasn’t just a typical friend. Instead, he had a knack for bringing a variety of groups together.

“He was the nucleus of it, he was the center,” she said.

Police are asking anyone who might have witnessed the shooting or may or have information about it to call Sgt. Matt Fyles at 303-739-6041. Tipsters can also remain anonymous by calling Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.