A San Diego police officer strapped on an accordion and jammed out with a group of musicians on Fiesta Island while enforcing bonfire regulations — a videotaped encounter that has gone viral online.
The video shows a man singing “Gaviota” (Seagull) by Mexican music legend Ramón Ayala while another man plays the guitar and the officer plays the accordion. The now-viral moment happened around 8 p.m. on March 2, police said.
In an interview Sunday, Officer Gary Gonzales said he approached the group because he noticed their bonfire seemed unsafe, with flames that appeared taller than 12 inches, a violation of the city’s firepit regulations.
When Gonzales walked up to the group, he noticed they had a guitar and had been singing.
“I asked, ‘Where is the accordion at?’” Gonzales said.
It turned out the group had an accordion on hand. Gonzales, who was working an overtime shift, strapped on the instrument and joined them.
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve had working here with the San Diego Police Department,” Gonzales said, adding that he believes the department “does a very good job about talking about how we should not only do our job as police officers but be relatable to the community.”
Gonzales, who has been on the police force for almost three years, said he didn’t expect the clip to go viral. He said he noticed the video reached social media users in other states, including Texas and Georgia.
He was happy he not only bonded with the group on Fiesta Island but also reached others beyond San Diego. He hopes the moment shows that officers can not only enforce regulations but also create positive interactions with community members.
Gonzales said he learned to play the accordion 10 years ago when he was 15 . He owns three accordions and plays regularly at home.
“For me it’s therapeutic,” he said. “It’s just something I truly do enjoy.”
On Sunday, Gonzales reconnected with one of the musicians, Gustavo Ozuna, at Fiesta Island.
“We were all amazed — first of all of his talent, and how nice he was when he pulled up,” Ozuna said in an interview. “If he could stay longer, we would’ve had him there all night.”