Ernesto Talamantez Aros Jr. tried to get out of the way when a fight broke out at the house party he was attending the night of Oct. 9, 2005, in a neighborhood near "A" Mountain.

"He was running and pushed my nephew out of the way, and he was shot in the back," said Aros' mother, Rebecca Lock. Her son, 25, died in the street near West Congress Street and Westmoreland Avenue.

STATUS

Even though Tucson Police Department detectives have identified suspects in the homicide, the investigation has gone cold, said Sgt. Matt Ronstadt, a TPD spokesman. The case last was reviewed in February 2009.

"The shooting was a result of a confrontation at the party, so therefore it was not completely random, but it is unknown if Aros was specifically targeted. There were at least three other individuals injured during the incident - not necessarily from gunfire," Ronstadt said, emphasizing that Aros was not a gang member.

A 24-year-old woman who had been at the party was arrested in connection with Aros' death. In exchange for testifying about what happened the night of the shooting, she was given a plea deal, Lock said. However, the woman never revealed what she knew. "It was like a slap on the hand, and she never did say what happened," Lock said. "That young lady and her friends and the people who lived in that house know exactly what happened, but they won't say anything."

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Aros was the eldest of Lock's five children. After graduating from Tucson High, he went to work to help support his siblings.

"He stepped in and really, really helped me out once I had gotten divorced, to help support his brothers and sisters financially, emotionally, spiritually, encouraging them," Lock said. "He encouraged my daughter to go as far as she could with her education, and she just graduated from college.

"Some people might say that he was rough. I'm not saying that he was an angel," Lock said, but "Ernesto was determined to help me move his siblings out of the neighborhood. He wanted us to move someplace not so bad. He wanted us to have a better life. It devastated the whole family."

Aros was saving up money to move his family - including his daughter, Arianne, who was barely a year old when her father died. He wanted to move to a better neighborhood in another city, such as Flagstaff or San Diego - places he'd visited through his job with a moving company.

"They say time heals all wounds, but it doesn't," Lock said. "It just allows you to function as time goes on. The wound is still there."

ABOUT THE SERIES

The Star will feature some of the Tucson-area violent crimes that remain unsolved - sometimes many years later. Anyone with information is urged to call 88-CRIME. Tips also can be submitted online at www.88crime.org; or by text message at 274637, then enter tip259 plus your text message.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191 if you have been a victim of an unsolved crime or if you are related to a victim.

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