Jurupa Valley, CA – A Riverside County sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot on Thursday afternoon while trying to apprehend a career criminal who was out on bail, according to investigators.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said the incident began at approximately 2 p.m. on Dec. 29, when 32-year-old Riverside County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) Deputy Isaiah Cordero pulled a vehicle over in the 3900-block of Golden West Avenue, KTTV reported.
The reason for the traffic stop is unclear.
Deputy Cordero was approaching the vehicle when the suspect suddenly pointed a gun at him and shot him, according to Sheriff Bianco.
The gunman was later identified as 44-year-old convicted felon William Shae McKay.
McKay fled the scene as witnesses dialed 911 and tried to help the wounded deputy until emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene, KTTV reported.
Deputy Cordero was rushed to a nearby trauma center, where he succumbed to his injuries, according to KABC.
The shooting triggered a massive manhunt, during which McKay was spotted in San Bernardino County, KTTV reported.
When deputies tried to approach him, McKay fled again.
They pursued the suspect’s vehicle into Riverside County, where the suspect ultimately crashed on the southbound 15 Freeway under the 5th Street overpass near Norco, KABC reported.
Sheriff Bianco said the suspect’s vehicle had been disabled with a “tire deflation device,” and that a law enforcement bearcat pinned his truck on an embankment on the shoulder of the roadway.
McKay opened fire on deputies after the wreck, according to Sheriff Bianco.
The suspect was mortally wounded when deputies returned fire.
He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, KTTV reported.
Sheriff Bianco said McKay’s criminal history dates back more than two decades, and that he was out on bail awaiting sentencing for offenses that could send him to prison for more than 20 years when he murdered Deputy Cordero, KABC reported.
McKay’s prior offenses include stabbing a California Highway Patrol K9, kidnapping, multiple assaults with a deadly weapon, and robbery, among others, according to KTTV.
“This terrible tragedy should have been prevented by the legal system,” the outraged sheriff said during a press conference on Thursday night. “McKay has an extensive and violent past and was convicted of a third strike in November of 2021. Instead of sentencing him to 25 years to life, which should have happened, the judge lowered his bail, allowing him to be released.”
“We would not be here today if that judge had done her job,” Sheriff Bianco added.
— LAPD Central Division (@LAPDCentral) December 30, 2022
Although the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office had urged the judge to hold McKay without bail, the judge opted to set his bail at $500,000, KABC reported.
His bail was later lowered, and he bonded out in March and was granted another continuance on sentencing in July.
The repeat offender skipped out on his sentencing hearing in October, at which point a warrant for his arrest was issued, KABC reported.
McKay was arrested on his warrant for skipping his sentencing but the same judge who had lowered his bail released him again, according to the sheriff.
“Our Office upheld our oath of pursuing justice by prosecuting convicted felon McKay in November of 2021, however a failure in the process to separate McKay from society and hold him accountable for his crimes has resulted in the tragic loss of a law enforcement deputy,” the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement to KABC.
“Our prayers are with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and particularly the family and loved ones of Deputy Isaiah Cordero, who paid the ultimate sacrifice ensuring the safety of his community,” the statement read.
Deputy Cordero began his law enforcement career in May of 2014, when he joined the RCSO as a correctional officer, KTTV reported.
He worked at the Indio Jail, the Robert Presley Detention Center, and at the Larry Smith Correctional Center before entering the 204 Basic Academy in February of 2018.
He was subsequently promoted as a sworn deputy sheriff, KTTV reported.
Deputy Cordero had just completed motor school in September, which was a major milestone for him.
“From the day he was hired, his goal was to become a motor deputy,” Sheriff Bianco said, according to KTTV. “Deputy Cordero learned from his mother the value of serving and helping others.”
The sheriff said the young deputy was a “jokester around the station,” KABC reported.
“All of our deputies considered him their little brother,” he added.
The Riverside Sheriff’s Association (RSA) described Deputy Cordero as “a ray of sunshine” within the RCSO who was “dedicated to protecting others,” KTTV reported.
“Once again, we face a tragic reminder of the selflessness and unwavering courage required of peace officers and their families,” the RSA said. “Deputy Cordero put on his uniform daily to make a difference in his community and keep families safe. Deputy Cordero’s death leaves a tremendous hole in the hearts of so many people who had the chance to know him personally.”
Deputy Cordero leaves behind his girlfriend, his parents, and his stepbrother, according to FOX News.
“Jennifer and I extend our deepest sympathies to Deputy Isaiah Cordero’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement on Thursday. “He served his community selflessly, and with dedication and courage. We owe him our respect, gratitude, and will remember his sacrifice.”
Dozens of law enforcement vehicles escorted the fallen hero’s flag-draped casket from Riverside Community Hospital to the coroner’s office in Perris on Thursday night, KABC reported.