By TOM COYNE, Associated Press Writer
GOSHEN, Ind. (AP) - A man opened fire Thursday at the simulated-wood factory where he worked, killing a co-worker and wounding several others before committing suicide, authorities said.
One person was slain inside the Nu-Wood Decorative Millwork plant and a SWAT team later found the gunman with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. A gun was near his body.
"He was dead when they found him," Elkhart County Sheriff's Capt. Julie Dijkstra said.
The gunman had apparently just been fired or was about to be fired, she said. His name and those of his victims were not immediately released.
Six people were wounded, State Police Sgt. Brant Klemm said. He described most as "walking wounded," and one victim in critical condition was upgraded to serious condition late Thursday.
Workers told authorities an automatic weapon was used and some injuries appeared to be shotgun wounds.
Earlier, the mayor and hospital administrators said they feared 30 to 35 people had been shot. Corporate reports show that's about how many people are employed at Nu-Wood.
Tammy Funderburk of nearby New Paris said she spoke briefly by cell phone with her 18-year-old son, who worked at the factory and escaped uninjured.
"He saw the gunman coming and he had a big rifle," Funderburk said. "He saw the gunman shooting people and he ran out the back door as fast as he could."
The shooting jolted this northern Indiana community of 29,000 about 100 miles east of Chicago. An elementary school kept its pupils inside and Goshen College, a small school run by Mennonites, told students and faculty to stay indoors.
Alerted by a 911 call from another business nearby, police and SWAT teams surrounded the factory and cordoned off the industrial park on the edge of town. Twelve nearby plants were evacuated, and more than a dozen ambulances lined up near the complex.
"The place is smothered in cops," Chris Barouska, a parts manager at a neighboring Ingersoll-Rand factory, said as authorities scrambled to find the gunman. "Completely surrounded."
By late afternoon, people were leaving the building with their hands on their heads and rescue crews removed people on stretchers.
Nu-Wood makes a polyurethane-based product that resembles white pine and is used as decorative trimming by homebuilders and remodelers.
According to Dun & Bradstreet, the company employs 35 people and reported $3.1 million in sales last year. Nu-Wood changed its name from GR Plastics Inc. earlier this year and leases 40,000 square feet at the Goshen building.
Herb Stein, a Nu-Wood manufacturer's representative who works out of his home in Akron, Ohio, said it was not a typical factory.
"It's not like an assembly line situation," he said. "Everyone knows each other, and everyone intermixes with each other."
Randy Zelman, who sells Nu-Wood products to wholesalers that supply builders and developers, said he heard about the shooting as he drove home to Columbus, Ohio.
"I'm all shook up," Zelman said in a telephone interview from a Dayton, Ohio, gas station. "I'm concerned for the people because they treat me like family."