Malone said it was unclear whether Compton fired his own weapon, or if more than one suspect was involved.
"We don't have a lot of leads at this point," Malone said during a morning news conference in a neighborhood of small ranch homes near where the deputy died. "If there's a way, God willing, we'll find him."
Authorities set up roadblocks in and around Smoaks, a town just west of Interstate 95, about 70 miles northwest of Charleston. Tracking dogs and a helicopter also were being used in the search.
Compton, a married father, had worked for the sheriff's office for two years -- first as a jailer and for the past 16 months as a deputy, Malone said.
"Deputy Compton was an honorable man, he was a family man," said Malone, who called the deputy "one of the best officers I had."
Slideshow archive | ABC13 wireless | Help solve crimes