‘We were all worried this was going to happen’: Murder MP’s ex-girlfriend feared he might join motorcycle unit
Ever since he was a kid, Isaiah Cordero wanted to be in law enforcement.
He considered border patrol, then decided to join the sheriff’s department. The positive and energetic deputy worked in the Riverside County jails, but eventually chose to patrol the streets and applied himself to being part of the department’s biker unit.
“He gave his all to his job,” said his ex-girlfriend, Karla Morales. “He loved his colleagues. That’s what kept him going even in his toughest days.”
William Shea McKay, 44, had a long and violent criminal past and was constantly on the run from the police.
The three-time convicted felon had a habit of trying to evade police, which in each case led to violent confrontations, court records show.
His first strike came in 1999, when he pleaded guilty to assault with a firearm and spent three years in prison. The second came in 2005, when he and a co-defendant attacked a sleeping couple in their apartment, assaulting them and stealing $3,700 from a safe.
The third strike came when he was convicted on November 8, 2021 of false imprisonment, escaping a peace officer, making criminal threats likely to result in death or serious bodily harm, and receiving property stolen. Evidence included zip ties, duct tape, an ax and gang paraphernalia. McKay represented himself at trial, but fled before his sentencing. There had been an arrest warrant against him since October.
On a suburban street in Riverside County on Thursday, Cordero and McKay’s lives collided.
McKay shot and killed Cordero during a traffic stop in Temple City. He then led the police in a highway chase that ended in a shootout that left McKay dead.
When Morales received a phone call Thursday night from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, she hoped it was to let her know that her ex-boyfriend Isaiah Cordero was going to be fine, that he was going to survive.
Although they recently broke up, Morales was still Cordero’s emergency contact, so she had already been informed by text that he had been shot during a traffic stop.
“I got the call. I was hoping it was an update that he was fine, but it was [the] totally opposed,” Morales said, crying in an interview with The Times. “As soon as I started dating him…you know what you’re getting into. You think about what could happen every night when they leave, and when they come home, you’re grateful.
“It’s always in the back of your mind.”
Morales was nervous when Cordero joined the motorcycle unit earlier this year.
“He was so happy to be in the motorcycle unit. Personally, I didn’t like it. You have no backup, nothing to cover you if someone shoots you. I had told his mother about it , and we both felt the same way, but we supported him through it,” she said. “We were all worried about this happening.”
Cordero was carrying out a traffic stop when McKay pulled out a gun and shot him as he approached, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said. The reason for the traffic stoppage was not immediately clear.
McKay then led the deputies in a massive freeway chase, as approximately 30 police vehicles followed him south on Highway 15 to Norco.
After driving over a spike strip set up by law enforcement, McKay’s car began to smoke and quickly became inoperable. McKay fired on pursuing officers, who returned fire and killed him, Bianco said.
“I’m angry. I feel like I’m more angry than sad. He took everything from this family,” said Morales, who has been in contact with Cordero’s mother since the murder.
Cordero’s mother declined to comment on her son, crying when she answered a call from a reporter Friday morning.
“We take the time to grieve as a family. And we are not responding to any questions at this time,” a Cordero family member said.
This wasn’t McKay’s first police pursuit. He led police on a high-speed chase in 1999, driving at 90 mph on surface streets, forcing Caltrans workers to dive clear as he sped through a work area, court documents show. . When his car broke down, he got out with a gun and waved it in the air threateningly towards officers before finally turning himself in.
He did it all again in 2021, fleeing after being arrested for driving a stolen vehicle with a co-defendant, according to court records. The two rushed, dodging police in the desert for 20 miles, then set off on foot armed with knives after their car was disabled. McKay’s co-defendant stabbed a police K-9 during this pursuit.
“At no time in the defendant’s adult life did he lead an enduring crime-free existence,” prosecutor Tess Ponce wrote in an April sentencing memorandum that detailed McKay’s criminal history.
McKay’s criminal history dates back to the 1990s and included kidnapping, robbery and multiple assaults with deadly weapons, according to the memorandum.
His violent history should have kept him in jail, Bianco said. He was convicted of his third strike in November 2021, but was released after a judge reduced his bail in the case, according to Bianco.
McKay and two other co-defendants in that case were charged with holding an acquaintance of his captive for several days, according to the sentencing memorandum filed by San Bernardino County prosecutors in April. The woman had been guarding McKay’s home while he was in custody in another case, prosecutors said. When she left the house for a few hours, the residence was broken into.
After the woman helped McKay get out of jail, he asked her to come in and talk about the burglary, prosecutors say.
“Defendant punched the victim multiple times in the face, told her he was going to kill her and her mother,” prosecutors wrote.
McKay then taped the woman’s wrists and ankles and kept her at home for days.
He and his co-defendants repeatedly assaulted the victim, who days later managed to loosen her restraints, escape and call the police on March 27, 2021, prosecutors say.
McKay’s bail in the case was originally set at $950,000 in June 2021, according to court records. After the verdicts, including his acquittal of the kidnapping charges, Judge Cara D. Hutson reduced his bond to $500,000.
“I’m angry that the judge let him go,” Morales said. “I’m angry that criminals seem to have more rights [than victims]. I’m just angry.
Los Angeles Times