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Woman escaped from cinderblock cell in garage of kidnapper who impersonated officer, FBI says

  Seattle police are praising the efforts of a woman who escaped a cinderblock cell after she had been allegedly kidnapped by a man who impe...

 Seattle police are praising the efforts of a woman who escaped a cinderblock cell after she had been allegedly kidnapped by a man who impersonated an undercover police officer.

The harrowing incident began when 29-year-old Negasi Zuberi picked up a prostitute from a street in Seattle known for sex work in the early hours of July 15, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon.

Zuberi allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the woman but afterward claimed he was an undercover police officer, flashed a badge, and placed her in his vehicle after putting her in handcuffs and leg irons.

The man then drove her 7 hours to his home in Klamath Falls, Oregon, while stopping along the way to sexually assault her. He put her in a cinder block cell that he had constructed in his garage with a door of metal bars and told her he was going to do some paperwork. 

After several hours in the cell, the woman realized she was in great danger and began to punch at the metal door to try to escape, according to the FBI. She was able to break some of the door's welded joints to create a small space and snuck out of the cell. 

The victim saw Zuberi's car in the garage and grabbed a gun that was inside. She escaped from the home and flagged down a driver who called 911.

Nevada State Patrol officers were able to track down Zuberi the next day at a parking lot with his child and wife at a Reno Walmart, and they tried to arrest him. After a 45-minute standoff during which the man cut himself and tried to destroy his phone, the suspect surrendered, and police took him into custody.

Investigators said they found the cell at Zuberi's home along with the victim's purse. They also found handwritten notes that appeared to document his alleged plan.

“Make sure they don’t have a bunch of ppl [sic] in their life. You don’t want any type of investigation," one note read, allegedly.

The FBI believes there may be other victims and are asking for the public's help in identifying them.

"Her quick thinking and will to survive may have saved other women from a similar nightmare," said Stephanie Shark, an assistant special agent of the FBI, in a statement.

"I want to personally thank her for her bravery and what she did to get through that ordeal and get to where she needed to be today," said Klamath Falls Police Captain Rob Reynolds.

The charge of interstate kidnapping carries a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Here's the official media briefing about the incident:

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