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Kidnapping suspect found dead after manhunt

Chase led to interstate shutdown early Tuesday

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ZEBULON — A man accused of kidnapping Tuesday led police on a chase and then died after a gunfight with officers on Interstate 87, authorities said.

Police have not said if the suspect shot and killed himself or if he was shot and killed by an officer. The kidnapping victim was found safe, and the incident closed nearby schools and a portion of eastbound I-87 for hours.

The Raleigh Police Department said information about the kidnapping was reported early Tuesday morning. An officer found the vehicle of the suspect, 23-year-old Hugo Yaret Cortes-Ramirez, in the 4000 block of Capital Boulevard around 4:30 a.m.

Cortes-Ramirez and the unidentified victim were inside the vehicle, police said. The officer tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver fled and a chase involving multiple agencies took place.

The driver eventually stopped on I-87 in Zebulon near exit 436 to Arendell Avenue. The driver, Cortes-Ramirez, jumped out and ran toward a nearby wood, firing a handgun, a press release said.

A Raleigh police officer returned fire, police said, and a search began. At 7 a.m., police notified the public that a manhunt was underway. Area schools were closed.

The N.C. State Highway Patrol, Wake County Sheriff’s Office and Zebulon Police Department assisted.

A short time later, Cortes-Ramirez was found dead in the woods with a pistol in his hand. Police announced the kidnapping victim was recovered safely shortly before 11 a.m.

Details about the kidnapping have not been released.

The State Bureau of Investigation and Wake County Sheriff’s Office were notified of the shooting and an investigation is ongoing. Raleigh Police has asked the courts to authorize the release officer video of the incident.

Police will file a detailed report about the shooting to the city manager’s office by Tuesday.

Eastbound traffic on I-87 was routed through Zebulon until about 2 p.m. according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Zebulon Elementary, Zebulon Middle and Wakelon Elementary schools were closed Tuesday in response, Wake County Public School System said. East Wake Academy announced it was also closed Tuesday. East Wake and Knightdale school buses were delayed because of the interstate shutdown.