WRAL reports the incident happened around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, when two masked men forced their way into the home of 73-year-old Linda Ellis.
Investigators said the men demanded money and shot Ellis in her leg. That's when her 12-year-old grandson grabbed a gun and opened fire in self-defense, causing the intruders to flee from the home.
Police found one of the suspects, identified as 19-year-old Khalil Herring, at a nearby intersection, suffering from a gunshot wound. He later died as a result of his injuries, officials said.
Ellis was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Randolph Bunn, Ellis' son and the boy's great-uncle, told WTVD the masked men would've likely shot others in the house if the 12-year-old hadn't opened fire.
"[The intruder] just shot his grandma," Bunn said. "He would have shot him too, he would've shot me too, he would've killed us all."
Police said charges are not expected to be filed against the 12-year-old boy.
No information was released about the second suspect.