"I was terrified," the South Shore resident tells the Chicago Tribune. "The young man hit me in the chest with a brick. After a year of harassment, that was the straw that broke the camel's back."
Authorities say Matthews, a retired cafeteria worker, returned home Tuesday to find some windows in her house broken. After seeing the boy and his 13-year-old friend running away, she called the police.
When the boys returned, stood atop a shed in the front yard and began swearing and throwing bricks at her, Matthews grabbed a gun and fired a shot, hitting the 12-year-old in the shoulder.
The boy's grandmother, Donna Virges, disputes the version of events, saying the two adolescents were simply "walking down the street, and they saw a window broken at a woman's house and as they passed by, they said she came out shooting."
The boy was released from the hospital Wednesday and now faces one count of misdemeanor aggravated assault to a senior citizen. Miss Margaret, as she is affectionately known on her block, has not been charged with a crime.
Matthews's stepson defended her decision to take matters into her own hands. "She's just afraid," Major Matthews told the Tribune. "She doesn't wish ill toward that child. And the thing she told me is she's thankful that young man didn't lose his life."
Neighbors have hailed the elderly woman a hero for standing up against the boys they say targeted her for more than a year.
Matthews, however, says she was simply fed up.
"It's not heroic at all. I'm just human and I'm a senior," she says, "and I don't like being abused."