March 3rd, 2008
08:45 AM ET
15 years ago

Gun incident near President Bush's ranch


A Danish journalist almost ended up in the middle of an international incident not far from President Bush's ranch Saturday. (Photo credit: Kaare Sorensen/Nyhedsavisen).

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) - A Danish journalist came this close to getting shot Saturday by an elderly woman packing a pistol near President Bush's ranch here in what was easily the strangest incident I've ever witnessed covering the White House.

It all started so innocently as I sat with a group of Danish journalists just down the street from Bush's ranch during a visit by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The two leaders were having lunch on the ranch, so I was waiting at a nearby historic one-room schoolhouse with White House staff to interview Rasmussen after the meal. Then the prime minister was going to do a brief press conference with the Danish press corps.

Terkel Svensson, a writer for the Danish News Agency, could not get wireless Internet access at the schoolhouse to file a story. But Svensson could get his cell phone working so he called his editor in
Copenhagen and started wandering across a quiet country road as he chatted away.

"I was just so occupied dictating my story that I didn't really see where I went," Svensson told me later. "I was just walking and talking."

What Svensson didn't realize was that he had stopped walking a couple hundred feet away, on the front lawn of an elderly woman. An elderly woman who looked through her window and didn't like that a strange man was standing outside her house. An elderly woman who had, um, a gun.

Next thing you know the woman is outside, no more than a few dozen feet from the journalist, demanding that he leave. "Suddenly she comes out and she says, 'Get off my property. You're trespassing,'" recalled Svensson.

Svensson was too preoccupied to notice the pistol, and was not aware that Texas law gives homeowners leeway on using a weapon when someone is trespassing on your property. All of us journalists across the street were too far away to see the pistol at first, until a Danish photographer with a telephoto lens announced to a bunch of us that there was indeed a weapon in the elderly woman's right hand.

As word spread that the lady had a gun – which she did not use – I can tell you it's a severe understatement to say White House and Secret Service officials were a bit concerned about the fact that they had just dodged an international incident. Ditto for Svensson, who was alarmed when he safely crossed the street and was shown dramatic still photos of the lady holding the gun.

"I will show the photos to my wife and children," Svensson told me. "They thought I was on a safe trip."

CNN was not able to reach the woman for comment.

–CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (403 Responses)
  1. demwit

    Do Danish people always wonder around their neigbors yards when talking on the cell? Is this related to having no government for months at a time??

    March 3, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. Paul in Texas

    To Geoff I would say that you make a good point about What Would Jesus Do. That's a great point, and in an ideal world more people would take that into consideration.

    However, the world is not ideal and many people do not practice what they preach.

    To your question: What if Europeans had guns? I would say that people probably wouldn't act the way you noted if they did. I know when I traveled in London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna, Zagreb, Manchester, Amsterdam, Firenze, Roma, Napoli, Bologna, and dozens of other European cities I tried to be a better tourist than you describe. I also was aware that while Europeans don't have guns, they do have knives (and they use them) and they do have bombs (and they use them). So, while guns are off the list of threats, they are not as genteel as you seem to try to indicate.

    March 3, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. chris

    first of all how can any of yall relatre this story to president bush also how can you say it was a gun incident did she shoot the guy no it never even said a shot was fired but she got the guy to leave didnt she and as for the reporter he needs to pay more attention to what hes doing in another country all you hippie democrates need to take note if you wanna be safe come be a neighbor if you wanna take our guns come try it i dare ya and if you cant get over your nasty prejudice about others then you realy need to take a look at what you stand for you hypocrites

    March 3, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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