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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Officials investigate the scene of a a fatal shooting near the Department of Workforce Services in Taylorsville on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.

TAYLORSVILLE — A 32-year-old man allegedly holding a woman at knifepoint was shot and killed by police Thursday morning.

The incident happened in the parking lot at the Department of Workforce Services, 5735 S. Redwood Road. While the shooting remained under investigation Thursday, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said his officer's actions possibly saved the woman's life.

"I believe this was an act of heroism on the part of the officer involved," Winder said. "We never make preliminary determinations until all the facts are collected. But I can tell you, from looking at the female victim here, she certainly believes that."

The incident began about 8:35 a.m. when the woman apparently called her family to tell them she was being held against her will by her boyfriend, Winder said. Whether the woman was kidnapped and information on how long she had been held against her will was still being determined Thursday.

Family members relayed that information to police, who responded to the Department of Workforce Services parking lot. The man and the woman may have been there seeking services from one of the state offices, Winder said.

While police were headed to the parking lot, the family told emergency dispatchers that the man had also indicated that he "wanted to be harmed by police," the sheriff said.

The first officer who arrived spotted the couple in an SUV.

"He approached (the SUV) and saw a male subject holding a knife to a female inside of the vehicle," Winder said. "Clearly there was a confrontation occurring."

As the officer called for backup, he left the microphone on his two-way radio cued up.

"We heard clearly over the radio multiple requests for the suspect to drop a knife," Winder said. "At some point during that exchange, it was apparent the individual was attacking the female. Multiple rounds were fired, striking the male subject."

The officer fired into the vehicle. Questions about whether the officer fired through a window or an open door and how close the woman was to the man when shots were fired were still being investigated Thursday.

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The woman was being treated for slash or cut wounds at a local hospital. Based on the woman's defensive wounds, Winder said it was clear the man was "engaged in a knife attack" when the officer fired his gun.

"There was an active attempt to injure this female," he said.

Names of the woman, the man shot by police and the officer had not been released as of Thursday afternoon.

Winder said the officer involved, who was not injured, is a veteran of the force. He described the officer as being "very shaken" over the incident.

Yellow police tape surrounded a large portion of the parking lot Thursday morning, and a body lay under a white sheet just outside the vehicle where police say the attack occurred.

Pat Reavy, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam