By PAUL J. YOUNG
City News Service
RIVERSIDE – As she mourned the loss of her son, Riverside Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero, Rebecca Cordero, struggled to get through her eulogy, in which she remembered her 32-year-old son as a man whose “acts came from a precious, honest heart.”
“You never wanted the spotlight, angel baby,” she said tearfully. “Your tributes are well deserved. They respect your service and sacrifice. Your life was one of selfless service. You knew what it took to earn that badge. You fought the good fight, my boy.”
Several thousand people gathered inside Harvest Christian Fellowship in west Riverside and in an overflow seating area outside the church for the duration of the memorial service, which began about 11:35 a.m. Hundreds of law enforcement personnel from throughout the county, California and a few other states were on hand to salute the fallen lawman.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco Friday remembered a motorcycle patrol deputy gunned down during a traffic stop as a “warrior,” who died fighting evil, and whose loss will not “be in vain.”
“God has sent warriors to fight evil,” Bianco said. “Where does evil come from? It’s in the Book of Isaiah … God asks who shall he send? Isaiah said, `Send me.’ Deputy (Isaiah) Cordero stood up and said, send me. We lost a deputy. The Cordero family lost a son, and the world lost a good man … His sacrifice will not be in vain.”
The memorial was preceded by a procession from Acheson and Graham Mortuary, during which supporters lined the roughly two-mile route to the church, holding crosses, waving flags and bowing their heads. A private funeral service was scheduled to follow the memorial.
Deputy Isaiah Albert Cordero was fatally shot about 1:45 p.m. on Dec. 29 in the 3900 block of Golden West Avenue, near Rathke Drive, in Jurupa Valley, his hometown. His was the first line-of-duty death involving a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy in 15 years.
The gunman died two hours later in a freeway gunfight with deputies.
Cordero began his career as a correctional deputy, working the county jails from 2014 to 2017. He attended the sheriff’s academy again in 2018 to serve as a patrol deputy and was eventually accepted onto the motor unit, where he worked as a patrolman in Jurupa Valley from September to December 2022.
Sheriff Chad Bianco said the eight-year law enforcement veteran “embodied our motto, `Service Above Self.”‘
The sheriff said Cordero stopped 44-year-old William S. McKay of San Bernardino, a three-strike felon, for reasons still under investigation but likely related to irregularities with the black pickup he was driving.
According to the sheriff, McKay’s criminal history included convictions for kidnapping, assault on a California Highway Patrol canine and armed robbery.
“This tragedy should have been (prevented) by the criminal justice system,” Bianco said. “This suspect was on his third strike in 2021. But instead of receiving a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison, a judge lowered his bail. He failed to appear for sentencing … and the same judge released him again. We would not be here today if this judge had done her job.”
San Bernardino County Superior Court documents show that the judge was Cara D. Hutson, out of the Rancho Cucamonga branch. She was re-elected in June and has been a judicial officer since 2007.
“(McKay) should have been immediately sentenced. The judge allowed him out, and here we are today,” Bianco said.
The felon led a phalanx of law enforcement personnel on a roughly two- hour pursuit that started in San Bernardino and ended on southbound Interstate 15 in Norco, where his pickup crashed after the rear tires, which had blown after going over a police spike strip, caused the axle to fail.
Bianco alleged McKay fired at law enforcement officers as they surrounded him. They returned fire and killed him, the sheriff said.
A “Help A Hero” fundraiser for his loved ones topped $100,000 on Wednesday. The original goal was exactly that amount, prompting the page sponsor, the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation, to establish a new goal of $200,000. The fundraiser will expire in March. The page is at https://helpahero.com/campaign/deputy-isaiah-cordero.