Elderly Woman Shoots 12-Year-Old Boy
Boy Is Charged With Crime, Woman Is Not
A shooting on the city's Southeast Side has people telling two entirely different stories.
Neighbors said an elderly woman was fed up with constant harassment from a 12-year-old boy, so she took a gun and shot the child after he and his friends threw bricks into her home.
Now, the boy is charged with a crime, while the 68-year-old woman is not.
The boy who was 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.
The woman, identified by neighbors as Margaret Matthews, was released from police custody without being charged, on the grounds that she acted in self defense, police said.
The boy who was shot was out of the hospital as of Wednesday morning, and was released to his parents, police said.
The shooting happened near 76th Street and Coles Avenue. Afterward, neighbors said Matthews was distraught because of everything that led up to the trigger-pull.
"She was very emotional; she was an emotional wreck,'' said a neighbor, Troila McCoy.
Neighbors said the boy was the ringleader of a group of kids, and had been holding his own little reign of terror on the block – especially targeting Matthews.
"I call him the little bad boy," said another neighbor, Hilda Brunt.
McCoy said the boy had been breaking windows, breaking items on Matthews' shed house, and setting her garbage on fire.
"I would say they were bullying her," added neighbor Frenchie Johnson. "She was an older lady. She stayed there by herself. They know that. And she's one of the ladies that, she stands up for herself."
Asked if he supported Matthews' actions, Johnson emphatically said, "Yes."
Damage from the alleged vandalism was apparent in the form of a boarded-up window at the home of the woman.
Neighbors say when the boy threw the bricks and broke Matthews' windows, she simply hit the breaking point.
"They threw a brick through her window," neighbor Rafael Ramirez said Wednesday. "I think she gave them as much warning as I think she could."
She called police and they came, but after officers left, the boy came back. That was when Matthews responded with gunfire.
But the boy's own family has a completely different story.
"He and his friend were 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," said the boy's grandmother, Donna Virges.
Other neighbors echoed the boy's grandmother's comments.
"I talked to (the boy) on the phone in the hospital," said neighbor Tania Outlaw. "He said that he was just walking past with two other boys… and the lady started shooting."
"All we heard was the shots, and she came out. (The boy) was like, 'She shot me! She shot me!'" said neighbor Rhonda Jackson. "He wasn't the type of little boy to do that; to throw a brick in an old lady's window like that."
Regine White is angry that Matthews wasn't charged with a crime.
"She could have threatened them and said, 'I'm going to call the police,'
but the fact that she just hauled off and shot them – that was unnecessary," White said.
Still, the incident struck a nerve with some, as a desk officer at the South Chicago police district where the shooting happened said at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, he fielded a call from a concerned citizen who does not know Matthews.
The woman caller wanted to let police know that if needed, she would raise bail money for the woman involved because she "should not go to jail," the officer said.
The caller explained she had also been "terrorized" in a similar way, she "knows what she feels like," and the woman "did the right thing," according to the officer.
WBBM Newsradio 780 reports neighbors say Matthews is a widow, works two jobs and lived in the same home for nearly 30 years. Neighbors know her as "Miss Margaret," WBBM's Lisa Fielding reports.
The boy's charges could land him in juvenile detention for up to a year.