Police came looking for a fight. Instead, they found more than a dozen teenagers and young adults who they say were playing football late at night. The young people said the heat has kept them trapped indoors during the day.
Officer Rachel Ayuso, one of three officers to respond to the fight call at about 1 a.m. Thursday at the Walmart Supercenter on Southwest Wilshire Boulevard, said the 15 to 20 people stopped playing when police rolled up.
“They looked in our direction, maybe thinking we were going to tell them to leave,” Ayuso said.
That’s when the officers hatched another plan, Ayuso said. Officer Jason Tauch came up with the idea to line up next to the players and light up the parking lot with their vehicles’ bright takedown lights.
“I told them on the (public address) that we were just there to give them some light,” Tauch said.
When the young people realized what was happening, “they all started cheering,” Ayuso said. “That’s when we decided to give them some music.”
“They all started cheering and they started playing again,” Tauch said.
The police played “Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney, which Tauch said his son’s football team would play in the locker room before their games in high school.
Tauch said the officers weren’t looking for recognition after the goodwill gesture. “It was just something fun to do between calls, once we figured out what was really happening.”
But Ayuso thinks it made a difference.
“After we met with them, they all said they thought we were going to tell them to leave and stop playing,” she said. “They were excited that we let them continue and that we sat there and watched for a bit.”
“I hope it shows them that we’re not here to mess with them,” Tauch said. “We’re regular people with families and kids, too. I believe they all walked away seeing that.”
Ayuso and Tauch said they were called away before they could see which team won the game, but they heard from another officer, Hawkins Murray, that “Shirts” was leading.
Some of the players visited the police station to talk to the officers, the department said in a post on its Facebook page.
“You just don’t see enough of this these days,” said Alicia Montes in a video of the game she posted to Facebook that was shared by the Burleson police account. “I’ve never felt more proud to be a resident of this town than I am right now.”