RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. - Tributes continue to pour in following the gruesome death of a beloved Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty in a tragedy that rocked Southern California.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco revealed in the hours after the deadly shooting of Deputy Isaiah Cordero that the suspect, identified as 44-year-old William Shae McKay, was a felon with a lengthy criminal history and that Thursday’s tragedy was preventable had a San Bernardino County judge done her job and kept him behind bars.
During a press conference on Thursday night, Sheriff Bianco criticized the justice system in San Bernardino County, saying McKay was convicted of his third strike, but despite his multiple run-ins with the law dating back to the late 1990s, a judge let him back on the streets.
He reiterated those comments Friday morning during an interview with FOX 11’s Gigi Graciette on Good Day LA.
How will Deputy Cordero be remembered?
Isaiah Cordero in pictured. (Credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Office.)
Sheriff Bianco described Deputy Cordero as a beloved son, friend, and co-worker with a wonderful sense of humor.
"It’s always the really good ones that we lose too soon," he said. "His life was just beginning."
William McKay’s lengthy criminal history
Sheriff Bianco described McKay as a "career life-long criminal."
(California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation )
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said in 1999, McKay received a three-year sentence in San Bernardino County for assault with a firearm and was given a concurrent sentence of two years for second-degree burglary. He was then released to parole supervision in March 2001 and released from parole in November 2005
Months later, McKay was convicted of more crimes.
CDCR officials said McKay was given a 13-year sentence in Los Angeles County in April 2006 for first-degree robbery as a second-striker and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He was released to parole supervision ten years later and discharged from parole in May 2019.
Two years later, he received his third strike in a case involving kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.
Sheriff Bianco said instead of sentencing 25 years to life behind bars, he accused a San Bernardino County judge of lowering McKay’s bail and letting him back on the streets.
‘Broken legal system’
"There is this disgusting love for criminals and hate for law enforcement. It seems everything that is happening is pro-criminal," Bianco told Graciette.
He continued to say, "It seems like everything that is happening is pro-criminal and the rest of us are all left to be victims. There is no concern for victims. It's all about the poor criminal and how can we help them? And this is a perfect example of we have evil people in this world and we have prisons for a reason. And those prisons are supposed to hold people like this. So our public is not victimized"
Even once criminals are caught, Bianco said the way cases are tried makes it challenging for law enforcement.
"We say all the time we're here to protect people. And who's protecting us? And the people protecting us from these bad people are supposed to be our judges, our district attorneys. And if we do not have district attorneys that are enforcing the laws, that are trying these cases that are doing their job, then there's a breakdown," Bianco added.
The sheriff went on to say what happened in Jurupa Valley was "not isolated."
"This is a movement within the justice system. That for some reason we feel sorry for criminals, and we completely disregard victims. And it's getting worse and worse and worse. And it has to stop," he said.
Tragedy strikes in Jurupa Valley
On Thursday afternoon, authorities said Deputy Isaiah Cordero was killed while attempting to conduct a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley around 2 p.m. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said Cordero tried to stop a vehicle in the 3900 block of Golden West Avenue and as he approached the vehicle, the suspect, identified as 44-year-old William Shae McKay, opened fire.
Witnesses called 911 and stayed with the wounded deputy until paramedics arrived.
McKay drove away from the scene, prompting a massive manhunt in the Inland Empire. He was then located in San Bernardino County and led authorities in a pursuit, which came to a violent end. McKay crashed his vehicle along the 15 Freeway in Norco and a short time later, he was in a gun battle with deputies.
He was then taken to an area hospital where he died.