A video of a San Diego police officer playing an accordion while enforcing bonfire regulations at a beach has gone viral.
Officer Gary Gonzales was patrolling Fiesta Island on the evening of March 2 when he encountered a group of musicians and decided to join in the revelry by playing the accordion.
In video footage shot by a spectator, Gonzales is seen with the group performing “Gaviota” (Seagull) by famous Mexican musician Ramón Ayala.
The San Diego Police Department posted the video on its social media channels — and it quickly went viral. At the time of this writing, the video on the department’s TikTok account has garnered over 800,000 views.
In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Gonzales said he approached the group because he noticed that their bonfire was unsafe and may have been violating the city’s firepit safety regulations, which states that flames cannot exceed a height of more than 12 inches.
When he walked up to the group, he noticed that they were musicians. Gonzales then asked them, “Where is the accordion at?” They happened to have one on hand. Gonzalez strapped the instrument on and began to jam out with the group.
Gonzales, who has been with the department for three years, said he was happy to bond with the group and hopes that his interaction with them shows that officers can engage positively with members of the community while doing their job.
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve had working here with the San Diego Police Department,” Gonzales said. He added that 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.”
The officer began learning the accordion when he was 15 and has been playing the instrument for 10 years. He said he has three accordions at home and plays regularly.
“For me, it’s therapeutic,” he said. “It’s just something I truly do enjoy.”
Gustavo Ozuna, one of the musicians at Fiesta Island, reflected on the moment.
“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.”