At least five people were killed in a shootout involving federal police and military officials near Rocky Point's Sandy Beach area on Dec. 18, the Sonora state attorney general confirmed.

The shootout was part of a federal police operation, but couldn't say who it involved. Carlos Alberto Navarro Sugich, the state attorney general, told reporters.

An American man who lives in the Esmeralda Resort complex on Sandy Beach told the Star today that he awoke to the sound of gunfire about 4:30 or 5 a.m.

"An absolutely unreal experience," said Stephen Heisler. "Whoever they were going after must have had a tremendous amount of power . . . To actually see a helicopter gunship firing into a dense residential area will haunt many for a very long time."

Video contributed