The 25-year-old woman told police a man wearing a mask knocked on her apartment door in the 3000 block of Pacific Street Thursday morning.
She said she opened the door and was immediately shot in the chest. She said the masked man then ran away and she called 911.
Police immediately launched a search for the shooter using a helicopter and police dogs, but now Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young says the woman made up the entire story and actually shot herself.
Detectives interviewed the woman Friday afternoon, and that's when she told them there was no masked man. She told officers she accidentally shot herself.
Officers recovered the small-caliber handgun used in the shooting and learned that it belongs to the victim's boyfriend, who was not at home at the time of the shooting.
The Whatcom County Prosecutor's Office is now reviewing the case for potential criminal charges.
The woman's current condition is unknown.