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‘An inspiration’: Jurupa Valley mourns slain Deputy Isaiah Cordero

Carlos Padilla always knew what career nephew Isaiah Cordero would gravitate toward, even if Cordero himself didn’t know.

When Cordero graduated from high school in San Bernardino at age 17, his uncle said, he was without direction.

But Padilla saw the moral character of his nephew, the boy who wouldn’t curse, let alone cause trouble.

“Since he was a kid, I knew what his destiny was going to be, so I pushed him into law enforcement. He instilled the law into himself at a young age,” Padilla said.

Gilbert Cordero, father of Deputy Isaiah Cordero, walks with others toward a memorial gathering for the slain deputy at the Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s station on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

A boy places flowers at the growing memorial for slain deputy Isaiah Cordero at the Jurupa Valley sheriff’s station on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Daniel Padilla and sister Daisy Padilla, cousins of Deputy Isaiah Cordero, hug each other at a memorial for the slain deputy at the Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s station on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Dominic Pitman, left, comforts his girlfriend Daisy Padilla, who is the cousin of Deputy Isaiah Cordero, at a memorial gathering for the slain deputy at the Jurupa Valley Sheriff’s station on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

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Padilla, a 61-year-old Hesperia resident, spoke on Friday, Dec. 30, a day after Cordero, 32, a Riverside County sheriff’s motorcycle deputy, was shot to death during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley.

The suspected killer, 44-year-old William Shae McKay, was later killed during a gun battle with law enforcement.

Padilla and other family members gathered inside the sheriff’s station on Mission Boulevard in Jurupa Valley, where a steady stream of mourners — many who had never met Cordero or who had fleeting interactions — left flowers and candles.

Some said a silent prayer for the deputy who was described Friday as proud to serve the city, kind, engaging, funny and thoughtful. One year he handed out Christmas presents to children from the back of his patrol car. Another time he escorted Santa Claus to the home of a woman whose husband had recently died.

Padilla on Friday was sad, and he was angry.

He suggested taking the flowers and candles and depositing them where San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Cara Hutson could see them. She is the judge who Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco, without identifying her by name, criticized for lowering three-strike McKay’s bail prior to his sentencing for convictions for kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.

That reduction allowed McKay to be on the streets on Thursday when Cordero was slain.

“The law that he swore to uphold took his life,” Padilla said. “They said ‘You’re being dropped in the battlefield,’ and then they abandoned him. It’s so heart-wrenching that the same people we allow to be in office can do something like this.”

The only comfort that Padilla said he felt in the death of a nephew who he loved like a son was that there was “justice” for McKay.

Padilla’s son David Padilla also took a career path into law enforcement after dressing up as Batman “head to toe” until he was 14, his father said.

When David Padilla, 25, graduated from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Academy on Dec. 15, Cordero pinned the badge on him.

Padilla was turned down for the academy several times and wondered whether he’d ever make it.

“He was someone to look up to, an inspiration to many of us,” Padilla said.

“He motivated me to be a deputy. When he graduated, that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do. He gave me that last push after I gave up hope,” Padilla said. “If it wasn’t for that last push I wouldn’t be here today in this uniform.”

This story is developing. Please check back for more details.

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