CHICAGO (CBS 2) – Some people condemn her actions, but others call her a hero. Now the senior citizen is explaining why she fired her gun at some kids to protect herself.

As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, the last 48 hours have been so tough for Margaret Matthews.

“This is an unfortunate situation that couldn’t be helped, but if I hadn’t protected myself, I might not be standing here now,” she told reporters Thursday.

Tearfully, Matthews says she felt threatened. Two kids threw bricks at her home and at her — one even hit her in the chest. So, the 68-year-old picked up a gun and fired it to scare them off.

“I think everybody has a right to protect themselves,” she said.

One of the bullets hit a 12-year-old, a boy many say has been tormenting her for months.

“She hasn’t had rest for a long time. This harassment has taken place for over a year,” her stepson, Pastor Major Matthews, said.

Matthews said never meant to shoot the young kid.

“God no, I didn’t,” she said, “and I’m so glad that it wasn’t any worse than it is. I’m so glad that he’s going to be all right. I hope mentally; physically, he’s going to be fine.”

She hopes there’s a teaching moment in all of this.

“Pray with your child,” said Matthews, “Teach your child that life is for the living.”

To the people calling her a hero, Matthews and her stepson say that isn’t the case. They say she was in a position they hope no one else finds themselves in.

Matthews faces no charges in the case. She says she’s praying for the kids police say attacked her.

Neighbors characterized the youths as “bad boys.”

They said they would often call police about the “bad boys,” and officers would come and take the boys into custody. But after the boys were released, they would go back to the neighborhood and terrorize it all over again.

The family of the boy who was shot originally claimed that the boys “saw a window broken at a woman’s house, and as they passed by, they said she came out shooting.”

But former police detective Gerald Hamilton, who lives across the street, said the boy who was shot admitted to throwing rocks.

An earlier CBS 2 story on the incident drew more than 600 comments. Some characterized Matthews as heroic, and said she would even have been justified in using deadly force. Others characterized Matthews as a vigilante and said her actions exceeded what would be protected by a right to self-defense. 

The boy that Matthews shot, along with another boy, 13, are cited in juvenile delinquency petitions with one count each of misdemeanor aggravated assault to a senior citizen, according to police.

Watch & Listen LIVE