An employee of a simulated wood products company here burst onto the factory floor this afternoon and opened fire with a shotgun, killing one man and wounding six other people before he killed himself, police say.

The shooting occurred after several tense hours following a warning to employees that there might be a problem with one of their co-workers, according to employees who survived the shooting. The victims' names were not released.

When heavily armed law enforcement officers entered the factory, they found the alleged shooter lying on the shotgun. "He was dead when they found him," Elkhart County Sheriff's Capt. Julie Dijkstra said.

Goshen police did not immediately release the name of the alleged gunman, but the South Bend Tribune identified him as Robert Wissman. Wissman, 36, was registered as a gun dealer and ran Bob's Gun Works from his home on South Main Street here.

Late this afternoon, a woman who answered the telephone at his address handed the phone to a man who identified himself as a local police officer. He declined to answer questions.

By early evening, a neighbor several houses away said that police were stretching yellow police tape around the property. Cars belonging to police and to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were stationed along the street and in the parking lot of a nearby library, the neighbor said.

According to court records, Wissman filed for bankruptcy in 1998, when he reported assets of $7,315 and debts of $30,501.

Elkhart County Police Chief Terry Schollian said the gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. "He was an employee," Schollian said. "There was a dispute."

According to one witness, plant officials were aware at least three hours before the shooting that there could be a problem. About 35 employees at the factory were called together in groups about 11:45 a.m. and told that one of their co-workers "was not himself," said Lyle Branch.

"It was a normal workday," said Branch, 36, who has worked at the plant for 2 1/2 years. "It weighed on my mind the rest of the day. We were on pins and needles."

At about 2:30 p.m., Branch said he and four others were heading out of the plant to punch out at the end of their shift. They never made it.

"We heard the front entrance open," Branch said. "He had a gun pointed at no one in particular and started shooting."

No one in Branch's immediate group was hit, he said, because they all ran. Branch, however, was limping noticeably. He said he jammed his knee while running. Asked how he felt, Branch said: "Very blessed. He could have picked us off very easy. It happened so fast."

The shooting shattered the calm of a sunny, late fall afternoon in this community of 29,000, southeast of South Bend and about 100 miles east of Chicago. The 40,000-square-foot Nu-Wood Decorative Millwork factory is in an industrial park near the edge of town.

The company manufactures a polyurethane-based product that resembles white pine and is used as decorative trimming.

Initial reports, apparently based on the number of workers thought to be inside the factory at the time of the shooting, were that as many as 35 people may have been wounded. Local and state police, including SWAT teams, rushed to the scene, where they surrounded the factory and evacuated nearby buildings. About a dozen ambulances were also dispatched to the industrial park to remove the wounded.

Two of the injured workers were flown by helicopter to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind. Karen Belcher, a hospital spokeswoman, said the condition of one of the workers, a 52-year-old man with gunshot wounds, was upgraded from critical to serious last night. She said the other worker, a 27-year-old man who also suffered gunshot wounds, was in critical condition.

Two wounded workers, both men, were treated at Goshen General Hospital and released, while two others, including a woman, remained at the hospital and were in fair condition last night, according to Donna Rohrer, vice president of marketing and outreach for the hospital. She said all four workers have gunshot wounds that are not life-threatening.

Staff writers Amy Goldstein and Michael A. Fletcher and researchers Margot Williams and Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

Paramedics tend to a shooting victim at the Goshen, Ind., airport after an employee allegedly opened fire at the Nu-Wood Decorative Millwork plant.Police officers walk down a street near the scene of a shooting in which two people, including the alleged gunman, died and six were injured.