A California sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed Thursday afternoon during a traffic stop, which led to a massive manhunt for the suspect and resulted in him being fatally shot by authorities.
In a news conference Thursday night, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed Deputy Isaiah Cordero was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley. He said the department is “deeply heartbroken” over the loss.
“He certainly embodied our motto of service before self,” Bianco said of the 32-year-old deputy, who was hired by Riverside County as a correctional deputy in May 2014.
Bianco said Cordero began the 204 Basic Academy in February 2018 and was promoted to a sworn deputy sheriff upon completion of the program. He graduated from Motor School in September and had only been working as a motorcycle deputy, a highly coveted job on the force, for about three months when he was killed.
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The Riverside Sheriff’s Association initially identified Cordero as the fallen deputy earlier in the evening and issued the following statement on his death:
“We are devastated by the grief of losing Deputy Isaiah Cordero, a deputy who was a ray of sunshine in the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, a person who was dedicated to protecting others. Once again, we face a tragic reminder of the selflessness and unwavering courage required of peace officers and their families.
“Deputy Cordero put on his uniform daily to make a difference in his community and keep families safe,” the statement continued. “Deputy Cordero’s death leaves a tremendous hole in the hearts of so many people who had the chance to know him personally. Today, Deputy Cordero made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty — a debt that can never be repaid. We must honor his memory and life of public service through our words and actions. Our heart goes out to his family, friends, and fellow deputies through this difficult time.”
Cordero was fatally shot during a traffic stop around 2 p.m. near the 3900 block of Golden West Avenue. The deputy was approaching the vehicle when the driver, later identified as 54-year-old William Shae McKay, pulled a gun out and shot him.
Bianco said a community member witnessed the shooting, called 911, and stayed with Cordero until paramedics arrived at the scene.
During the conference, Bianco said McKay has an extensive criminal history in California dating back over 22 years.
Bianco said a massive manhunt for McKay came to an end fairly quickly when he was located driving in San Bernardino County. McKay led authorities on a pursuit back into Riverside County where a spike strip was deployed, damaging both of his rear tires. He continued driving until his vehicle became disabled then began shooting at deputies who returned fire and killed him.
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Prior to shooting Cordero, McKay was most recently pursued by California authorities in March 2021 in connection with a felony kidnapping warrant. McKay was arrested after stabbing California Highway Patrol K-9 Sam, who took him down after his car was disabled by a spike strip, and he tried to flee on foot. The K-9 survived the attack.
Bianco said McKay was convicted of his third strike in November 2021 in connection with the above incident and should have been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Before sentencing, the judge lowered McKay’s bail, which resulted in him being released.
He was then arrested for failure to appear at sentencing, where the same judge allowed for him to be released again, according to Bianco.
“We would not be here today if the judge had done her job,” Bianco said.
The sheriff would not name the judge, but said she is a San Bernardino County judge.
A large group of law enforcement members was seen outside the Riverside Community Hospital where the deputy died.
Cordero is the first Riverside County deputy killed in the line of duty in over 10 years, according to the sheriff, who added that there are approximately 4,000 employees.
He is survived by his girlfriend, an older stepbrother and his parents.