A North Charleston police officer who reported having been shot early Wednesday by an unknown suspect actually shot himself, police Chief Jon Zumalt said today.

“It didn’t happen,” Zumalt said. “No one was back there. He shot himself.’

Police Sgt. Eddie Bullard has been suspended without pay pending an internal investigation, Zumalt said. Bullard may face criminal charges.

“I’m very worried about his mental health,” Zumalt said. “He’s very troubled.”

About 4:30 a.m. on the Fourth of July, Bullard radioed a report that he had been shot outside a Rivers Avenue store. He told officers he had been jumped from behind after he had stopped to talk with a suspicious man he saw standing outside the store, which was closed.

He reported that the man who jumped him tried to get his gun and during the struggle, the gun fired twice and one of the rounds apparently slammed into Bullard’s protective vest, according to a police report.

The bullet did not pierce the vest, but the impact left a bruise on Bullard’s abdomen. The 15-year veteran was released from the hospital on Thursday and was recovering at home.

In his report, Bullard was only able to describe his assailant as a black male. After announcing earlier Friday that police had been unable to find any suspects, spokesman Spencer Pryor later announced a hastily called news conference would be held at 6 p.m., just in time for the evening television newscasts.

Speaking to reporters at City Hall, Zumalt said had had immediately become uneasy with the facts of case. Zumalt and investigators kept digging and soon got to the the truth.

Bullard has admitted shooting himself, Zumalt said.