MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Investigators continue the search for a person of interest wanted for questioning in the attempted murder of a Berkeley County deputy Thursday night.
Witnesses describe the man to be a black male in his 20s, 5'10" to 5'11" tall, weighing between 150 to 170 pounds and having a reddish tint in his hair towards the forehead area.
Berkeley County Sheriff's Lt. Will Rogers was shot at a gas station on Highway 52 at Cypress Gardens Road in Moncks Corner around 10:30 p.m. on Thursday. Investigators say as Rogers was talking to a customer in the parking lot, a masked gunman came around a corner and shot Rogers from behind.
Authorities described the gunman as being between 5'10 and 6'4" tall and weighing up to 210 pounds. In addition to the mask, he was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt and gray sweatpants with a white stripe. He is considered armed and dangerous.
Following the shooting, investigators say the gunman carjacked a black Hyundai Santa Fe and took off. Officers found the vehicle around 12:25 a.m., wrecked in a ditch in the area of Cypress Gardens Road, but no word on the driver.
The discovery of the vehicle led to a 16-hour manhunt in a large area from Cypress Gardens, to DuPont and to Bushy Park Road where the SCE&G plant is located, according to Berkeley County Interim Sheriff Butch Henerey.
The temporary command post that had been set up at the site of the shooting was moved off Cypress Garden Road at Spring Grove, where the stolen vehicle had been found.
Authorities released surveillance video Friday afternoon that showed the suspected gunman carrying a maroon-colored sack moments after the shooting. Authorities believe the sack is made of silk and they want to know why it seems to be so important to the suspect.
"It seems to have meant something special to him," Henerey said. "He didn't leave it after he shot the deputy. He didn't leave it after he wrecked the car. We don't know, but it's an unusual piece of equipment for a male to be walking around with."
Officers advised residents in the area to stay inside as they search for the suspect. Officers from multiple agencies including the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, Moncks Corner police, North Charleston Police, and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Department of Natural Resources and the State Law Enforcement Division searched in the area. SLED also used helicopters and bloodhounds to assist in the search.
The search was called off late Friday when Berkeley Co. Chief Deputy Rick Ollic said there is no indication the gunman is still in the area.
Henerey said late Friday they do not plan to move to a new location, but will instead wait for new developments before making their next move.
The county has a 24-hour information line set up to take calls from anyone who might know something about the shooting or might have seen the gunman. That number is (843) 719-4424.
Rogers has been taken off a ventilator, according to a spokesperson from MUSC. Officials say he is talking and is recognizing family members. Officials say doctors have been cautiously optimistic and that Rogers is still considered to be in critical, yet stable condition.
Rogers was airlifted to MUSC and taken into surgery Thursday night. At approximately 7 a.m. Friday morning, an MUSC spokesperson said Rogers was in the intensive care unit in critical condition.
Rogers, a night shift supervisor, has been in law enforcement for more than 25 years and was a GOP candidate in the recent Berkeley County Sheriff election.
In his 25 years in law enforcement he's been a part of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and a member of the Moncks Corner Police Department. He's also a Marine veteran.
A friend of the family says he is a devoted family man, a father of three daughters and two sons. He also has two grandchildren.
Former Berkeley County Sheriff Major Ricky Driggers is a long-time friend of Rogers. He said he's heartbroken over the news of Rogers.
Driggers described the veteran as one of the hardest working men in law enforcement he's ever known.
Driggers has spoken with members of the search effort and said they are sad and upset over what happened, but "they need to keep their heads in the game."