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‘They shot an officer!’ Woman who aided slain deputy in Jurupa Valley describes ordeal

A Jurupa Valley resident who along with her family came to the aid of a mortally wounded Riverside County sheriff’s deputy tearfully described the traumatic experience as “the worst event in your life.”

Leticia Bautista, 57, also provided new details on Friday about the traffic stop that led to the shooting of 32-year-old motorcycle officer Isaiah Cordero on Thursday, Dec. 29.

Leticia Bautista’s home is decorated for Christmas in Jurupa Valley on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

A Christmas angel stands in the front yard of Leticia Bautista’s home in Jurupa Valley on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

Community members leave flowers on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at a memorial on the street in Jurupa Valley where the fatal shooting of Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero took place the day before. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

Leticia Bautista is emotional on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, while recounting the shooting of Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero that took place outside her home in Jurupa Valley. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

Leticia Bautista watches a television broadcast from outside her home on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, as she recounts the shooting of Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero that took place in Jurupa Valley the day before. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

A father and his daughter pay their respects at a memorial for Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero on the street where he was shot in Jurupa Valley on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

Community members leave flowers on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at a memorial on the street in Jurupa Valley where the fatal shooting of Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Cordero took place the day before. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

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Bautista lives near the bottom of Condor Drive with her husband, son, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. A cousin was visiting from Mexico City for the holidays, which the family marked with elaborate Nativity scenes in the front yard and in the living room.

Bautista, who runs an insurance agency and works from home, was at her computer in a room with a window that faces the street. She saw a black pickup roll by followed about 15 seconds later by what she described as the sound of a tire blowing out.

But then her cousin shouted, “They shot an officer! They shot an officer!” she said.

Bautista said her cousin was sitting on the living room couch with a view through the window blinds. According to Bautista, her cousin watched as Cordero made a U-turn and pulled behind the pickup, bringing it to a stop. Cordero got off his bike and spent a few moments talking with the driver, who authorities say was 44-year-old William Shae McKay. Cordero then went to look at the back of the pickup while McKay appeared to reach for something.

Cordero then walked back up to McKay, still seated inside the cab.

“The driver just shot him,” Bautista said, recalling her cousin’s account. “He said the officer went flat on his back right away.”

Bautista and daughter Cindy rushed outside. Both called 911 twice and received busy signals. On the third call, Bautista said, she was placed on hold before a dispatcher finally came on the line. The dispatcher asked Bautista to call out to the deputy, and check to see if he was breathing, had a pulse and where he was wounded.

Cordero did not respond to her or appear to be breathing, she said, but she detected a pulse. A man driving by stopped and took Cordero’s pulse as well, she said, and found none.

Cordero appeared to be bleeding from near an eye.

“We wanted to take off the helmet, but …” Bautista said, pausing to wipe her eyes, “I was afraid we would hurt him.”

Related links

Riverside County sheriff’s deputy killed; suspect dead after pursuit
Condolences pour in following fatal shooting of Riverside County deputy
Killer of Riverside County deputy had a history of violence, evading police
‘An inspiration’: Jurupa Valley mourns slain Deputy Isaiah Cordero

Bautista and her daughter wound up on the phone with separate dispatchers at the same time. They provided a description of the pickup that would prove valuable: a black Ford or Chevrolet with a blue tarp on the back. Deputies arrived about 3 minutes after their calls went through.

Authorities located McKay and the pickup in San Bernardino County near the 15 Freeway. After a pursuit up and down the 15, east on the 60, west on the 60 and south on the 15, McKay, with at least one tire flattened from running over a spike strip, lost control and crashed in Norco. He was killed in a gun battle with the dozens of officers who were tailing him, Sheriff Chad Bianco said.

Bautista remembered Cordero after he had responded to a burglary at her agency’s office a couple of years ago. She, like Bianco and others, was angry that McKay was out on the streets after San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Cara Hutson reduced McKay’s bail enough that he was free Thursday pending sentencing after a conviction for false imprisonment. A charge of kidnapping had been dismissed.

“The criminals have more power than the sheriffs because they let him go,” Bautista said.

She found a measure of solace that when she reviewed her home’s security video, Cordero’s body could not be seen lying in the street. A white, Christmas angel on the lawn blocked the camera’s view.

“That was his guardian,” Cindy said.

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