Authorities in South Carolina launched a massive manhunt Friday for a masked gunman who shot and wounded a sheriff’s deputy.

Berkeley County Sheriff Butch Henerey told Fox Carolina that Deputy Lt. Will Rogers was shot at an Exxon gas station in Moncks Corner at around 10:30 p.m.

Law officers were searching an area south of town near Cypress Gardens, a 170-acre garden and swamp that is a popular tourist attraction. According to its website, the Gardens will be closed while the search continues.

Berkeley County spokesman Michael Mule said that more than 50 officers from various departments were taking part in the search. He said several hundred officers searched in Moncks Corner in the hours immediately after the shooting.

Henerey told the Fox affiliate that Rogers was shot as he was speaking to a customer. The masked shooter came from behind the building and shot the deputy, he said.

After the shooting, investigators say the suspect stole a vehicle and took off.

The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Police described the man as being between 5-foot-10-inches and 6-foot-4-inches, weighing 210 pounds, wearing a mask and grey sweat pants with a white stripe.

The Hyundai Santa Fe the man stole was found at 12:25 a.m. However, authorities had no word on the status of the driver.

Fox Carolina reports that Rogers was in surgery as of early Friday. Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston spokeswoman Helen Adams said the deputy was in critical but stable condition.

Rogers has been in law enforcement for more than 25 years and was a candidate in the recent Berkeley County Sheriff runoff election. 

Cypress Gardens is known outside the Charleston area as the location where scenes from the films "The Patriot" and "The Notebook" were filmed.

Moncks Corner is about 30 miles northwest of Charleston.

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