By Melissa Garcia

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Exactly one year has passed since the murder of a Good Samaritan in Aurora who was shot to death while rescuing a woman from being beaten.

Kelly Acosta was 29 years old when an unknown suspect gunned him down in the parking lot of the apartment complex on South Dillon Way just north of Quincy.

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Friends gathered Sunday where Acosta worked at the Emerald Isle on Parker Road to raise money to help bring his killer to justice.

Co-workers there were not just fellow employees; they were his family, said Brittany Allen, Acosta’s best friend.

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So far, the group and supporters along with the help of a couple of organizations have raised more than $40,000. The growing reward will go to anyone with information leading to an arrest.

“It’s really hard without him,” Allen told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.

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Where Acosta once worked alongside her serving customers at the bar of the Emerald Isle, now only pictures hang and memories remain of the loving and equally loved young man.

“He was kind of like the father figure around here,” Allen said. “He kind of rallied us all in and kept us on our ‘A’ game all of the time.”

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On the one-year anniversary of his death, friends packed the place to remember him and raise reward funds with the sale of bracelets, hats and t-shirts.

“I think it just speaks volumes to the person Kelly was,” Allen said. “He loved everyone. I never knew one person that he had ill will with.”

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Friends said that in the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2017, Acosta heard screams in the parking lot outside of his Aurora apartment. When he ran outside and tried to save a woman who was being beaten by a male suspect, his efforts were met with two gunshots that ended his life.

“He stepped in and did the right thing at the right time. And that was Kelly’s nature,” said Tim Robles, another friend.

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Robles said Sunday’s gathering was more about celebrating Acosta’s life than grieving his loss.

“We were lucky enough to know him,” Robles said. “We were lucky enough to be friends with him, to be family with him.”

Friends reached out with a plea for information that would help to mend their broken hearts. “We’re done crying because we miss him,” Robles said. “Now we’re more angry, and crying because justice hasn’t been served yet.”

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“For us to not have any answers right now is extremely frustrating,” Allen added.

Officer Bill Hummel, a spokesman with the Aurora Police Department, said that investigators still had not been able to identify a suspect.

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Police are asking for the public’s help. Officers will follow up on every lead, no matter how big or small, Hummel said.

Anyone with information can make an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers or call the case detective directly.

The Aurora Police Department is asking anyone with information about the case to contact Sergeant Matt Fyles with the Major Crimes/Homicide Unit at 303-739-6041. Tipsters can also use Metro Denver Crime Stoppers by calling 720-913-7867.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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