Nightly News   |  January 05, 2012

OK to shoot? Young mother fends off criminal

Sarah McKinley was faced with a difficult decision in order to protect her 3-month-old son. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to the story out of oklahoma about another mother forced to make an extraordinary step to protect herself and her child in a dangerous situation. intruders were at the door when she called 911. nbc's kristen dahlgren picks up the story.

>> reporter: a young mother facing a life or death decision.

>> i've got two guns in my hand. is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?

>> you have to make a choice -- you or him. i chose my son over him.

>> reporter: 18-year-old sara mcinially was home alone with her baby. grieving. her husband had died of cancer on christmas day when two men started banging on her door. grabbing a shotgun she called for help.

>> i knew she was scared. she was whispering. she didn't want him to know she was on the phone with me.

>> is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door.

>> i can't tell you that you can do that. but you do what you have to do to protect your baby.

>> reporter: mckinley shot and killed justin martin who was armed with a knife.

>> they said i couldn't shoot him until he got in the house. he got in and i shot him.

>> reporter: she was cleared of wrongdoing, the 911 tapes showing she was clearly within the rights. a law in 21 states that gives the right to protect your home.

>> when someone breaks into your house the oklahoma castle law presumes the intruder intends to use deadly force so the homeowner is justified even if the intruder was unarmed.

>> reporter: the second alleged intruder is charged with first-degree murder.

>> the accomplice was up to no good. under our felony murder laws that's the person responsible.

>> reporter: today mckinley is a hometown hero with hope that the worst is behind her.

>> maybe something a little bit better than last year.

>> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, los angeles .