RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Community members and fellow law enforcement colleagues are mourning the loss of Riverside County Sheriff's Department Deputy Isaiah Cordero, who was killed in the line of duty.
Loved ones brought flowers and candles in Cordero's memory to a growing memorial for the beloved deputy at the Jurupa Valley Sheriff's Station on Friday - many giving each other hugs as they shed tears.
Area resident Alicia Caloca remembered Cordero as a joyful person, who always smiled and looked happy.
The beloved deputy, 32, was shot and killed Thursday in the line of duty during a traffic stop. He had pulled over a pickup truck just before 2 p.m. in Jurupa Valley. As he approached the vehicle, the driver pulled a gun and shot him, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said at a Thursday evening news conference.
A witness called 911 and residents tried to help Cordero until paramedics arrived but he was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A massive manhunt then began for the shooter, who spotted in San Bernardino County, sparking a chase on freeways through both counties. A spike strip disabled two rear wheels but the truck kept going, the sheriff said.
News video showed dozens of California Highway Patrol and Sheriff's Department vehicles, including an armored SWAT vehicle, chasing the truck.
On the 15 Freeway in Norco, the truck finally became disabled, losing an axle, and crashed, Bianco said.
"At the conclusion of the pursuit, the suspect fired rounds at deputies" with a handgun and they shot back, killing him, Bianco said.
The suspect, William Shae McKay, 44, of San Bernardino County, had a long and violent criminal history stretching back to before 2000 that included kidnapping, robbery and multiple arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, including a 2021 police chase in which a California Highway Patrol dog was stabbed, allegedly by an accomplice of McKay, the sheriff said.
According to Bianco, McKay had been convicted of a "third strike" offense last year that should have put him in state prison for 25 years to life, but a San Bernardino County judge lowered his bail, allowing his release, and later released him following an arrest for failing to appear at his sentencing.
"He should have been immediately sentenced to 25 years to life," Bianco said. "We would not be here today if the judge had done her job." Bianco said.
Caloca, who brought flowers Friday morning to the Jurupa Valley Sheriff's Station to honor Cordero, believes the deputy's death did not have to happen.
"This could have been prevented. It just kind of makes you more angry and a little bit more upset about how the system can be," she said.
El Monte police officers delivered breakfast to the Jurupa Valley Sheriff's Station. They understand this community's pain.
"I felt like my heart dropped," said Ruben Quintana with El Monte Police.
Back in June, El Monte Police Sgt. Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana were gunned down at a motel while investigating a crime.
"My heart goes out to them. If I had a magic wand, I would wave it and rewind time. But unfortunately life doesn't work that way. All I can do is offer my support in any way that I can," Quintana said. "We grieve and mourn with them."
Cordero was a motorcycle officer assigned to Jurupa Valley, a city that contracts with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for policing services.
Cordero joined the 4,000-member strong department as a corrections deputy, worked in local jails, became a sworn deputy in 2018 and completed motor school to become a motorcycle deputy in September, Bianco said.
Cordero "learned from his mother the value of serving and helping others" and his goal at the department was always to become a motor deputy, Bianco said.
"He was naturally drawn to law enforcement and certainly embodied our motto of service above self," Bianco said. "He was a jokester around the station and all of our deputies considered him their little brother."
Several hours after the shooting, dozens of motorcycle officers and patrol cars escorted a hearse transporting the deputy's flag-draped casket from the hospital to the county coroner's office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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