A deputy killed. A wild pursuit. A deadly freeway gun battle. Violence stuns Riverside County

The gunman was killed in a gun battle shootout with law enforcement after a freeway chase.

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It started with a routine traffic stop and ended with a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy fatally wounded.

The suspect then led authorities on a wild and dangerous chase on county freeways that ended with a gun battle and the death of the man authorities say killed the deputy.

The shocking series of event unfolded Thursday afternoon, some of it carried live on television news.


Investigators are still trying to piece together the chain of events. But here is what we know:

A traffic stop

Deputy Isaiah Cordero, 32, was conducting a traffic stop just before 2 p.m. near the 3900 block of Golden West Avenue when the suspect pulled out a gun and shot him as he approached the vehicle, said Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco.

Deputy Isaiah Cordero was shot in Jurupa Valley. The gunman was killed in a gun battle with law enforcement after a freeway chase.

Dec. 30, 2022

The nature of the stop was unknown.

Nancy Padilla, who lives across the street from the school, told The Times that she heard sirens shortly after 2 p.m. The noise was nothing unusual for the neighborhood where she’s lived for 10 years, she said.

Riverside County Sheriff Deputies gather outside a hospital  after a deputy was shot and killed on Thursday.
Riverside County sheriff’s deputies gather outside Riverside Community Hospital after one of their deputies was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Thursday in Riverside.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

But Padilla became concerned as the commotion mounted.

“I told my daughter, ‘It doesn’t sound normal. It’s been going for 10 minutes,’” she said.

Padilla, who had been listening to music and heard no gunshots, looked outside and saw several dozen police cruisers and motorcycles crowding Golden West and the school’s parking lot. Two helicopters clattered overhead.

She said a neighbor told her the shooter had fled in a truck with a tarp covering the bed.

The pursuit

A 911 caller reported the shooting, beginning a dragnet for the suspect

Spotted in San Bernardino County, the gunman fled back to Jurupa Valley, where his truck ran over a spike strip on the 60 Freeway but continued driving. As many as 30 police vehicles followed the gunman’s truck south on Interstate 15 to Norco.

William Shea McKay.
(California Department of Corrections)

By the time the gunman reached the 6th Street exit of the 15 in Norco, the vehicle was smoking, its tires had been stripped away, and an axle had given way, rendering it disabled.

The gunman shot at the deputies pursuing him, prompting them to return fire and kill him, Bianco said. More than 10 officers opened fire in the gun battle, sources familiar with the investigation told The Times.

The pickup truck driven by the gunman was rammed and pinned by a SWAT armored vehicle on the side of the 15. TV coverage showed multiple gunshot holes in the windshield.

Bianco identified the gunman as William Shea McKay, 44, who most recently lived in San Bernardino County. McKay’s criminal history dated to the 1990s and included kidnapping, robbery and multiple assaults with deadly weapons, Bianco said.

Law enforcement line up their vehicles to form a procession.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

The deputy

Cordero was hired by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 2014 to work in the county jails.


He was assigned to the Robert Presley Detention Center, Smith Correctional Facility and Indio jail before enrolling at the sheriff’s academy in 2018, Bianco said.

Deputy Isaiah Cordero
(Riverside County Sheriff’s Department)

At the time of his death, Cordero was assigned to the Jurupa Valley station as a motorcycle deputy, a coveted position within the department.

Applicants must show “a strong desire to get on a motorcycle,” Bianco said. “We don’t just put them there. There is a list of deputies waiting.”

At the station, Cordero was known as a “jokester,” and “all of our deputies considered him a younger brother,” Bianco said.

He had “just graduated from motor school a few months ago,” according to deputies.