March 3rd, 2008
08:45 AM ET
14 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. ben

    What kind of secret service do we have? If someone has a weapon and
    can shoot a man within rifle range of the president?
    I don't like Bush, but for God's sake, I certainly don't want him killed'!!!!!!

    March 2, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Rosa

    Actually if Cheney was hunting, you'd probably not be as safe as you were the other day. He tends to shoot first and asks questions later (or waterboards people instead of asking them).

    March 2, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    I guess the journalists will stay out her property now.

    March 2, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Being in your own little world as you wander about the landscape is unsafe, even if you are on the phone, and even if you are a journalist. How about you media stay the hell off of people's private property.

    March 2, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Corey, Maryland

    All i can say to this is stupid Texans!!! This is why we need very strict gun laws in this country.

    Obama Richardson 08!!

    March 2, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Grif

    Well that was no good. Maybe it's better if Anni get's her gun!!!!

    March 2, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  7. wild schield

    america the land of gun nuts....way to go rednecks. I am so glad i live in europe now where this kind of thing is not tolerated even the least little bit..
    ....with the danish prime minister right across the street no less can't wait to see those pics all over the news tommarrow

    March 2, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. Daniel

    This just goes to show how incredibly dumb some Texans can be. Most people would step to their door and demand the stranger leave. If you live in another country and are reading this comment, please understand that not all Americans are like this idiot. Most of us don't own guns and most of us don't come out of our houses brandishing one.

    March 2, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Manuel TX

    Texans... 🙂

    Shoot first and ask questions later.

    I need to invite that lady to join me at the local caucus on Tuesday to scare off the "Hillary hating" Repugblicans pretending to vote for Obama.

    Of course she may one of maybe not.

    March 2, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Peter Canada Obama 08

    Good luck on your trip.

    March 2, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Cat

    Wow! Talk about taking America's image in the world down a notch! While people should be able to defend their life and property there is nothing about a man stopping in front of your house while talking on a cell phone that is threatening. Texas really needs to reexamine its laws because even though she didn't use her gun, she threatened the man's life for literally no reason at all. I can think of all kinds of benevolent reasons to approach someone's house. Someone could be selling girl scout cookies, circulating a political petition, a new neighbor stopping by to introduce themself, etc. Bringing a gun out without a threat invites tragedy. This is absolutely ridiculous.

    March 2, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Dave

    Lucky for this journalist Dick Cheney wasn't around

    March 2, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Kevin McGreevy

    The elderly lady should have fired a warning shot to get the moron reporter's attention to get off her property.

    March 2, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Good for her. It is her property. I would do the same thing if a foreigner was on my property with out advance notice. I might have even made him get off my property.

    March 2, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. Rollinson Ford

    Don't mess with Texas!

    March 2, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. David Moll

    Talk about a misleading headline!

    This is not a "gun incident." It's an ignorant self-absorbed inattentive journalist incident. I'm sure that if you told the story from the point of view of the residents around the ranch you would get a completely different idea of what happened. I'll bet the people that live in the area REALLY like having those herds of journalists around!

    Given the potential for confrontation, the old lady simply decided to have a gun in her hand for self-defense, rather than a baseball bat, a can of pepper spray...or a lawyer on retainer.

    March 2, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Pat M PEI Canada

    Well what you expect an old lady living so handy to Bush's Ranch would be totin?

    March 2, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. Ru B., NH

    Good for her! Personal property means something somewhere. She didn't shoot him; she merely took precautions to defend herself. Well done, ma'am!

    March 2, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. Juan Grain

    Welcme to America! Where the men are men and Grandma packs heat 🙂

    March 2, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. Ohio

    You americans are very strange, the outside wolrd is laughting at you.

    March 2, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Jed in Texas

    Dont mess with a Texas granny.

    March 2, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. Ikakoo

    hahaha, i love Texas!

    March 2, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. bb

    It must be something in the water that makes those in that neighborhood so violent and thirsty for innocent blood.

    March 2, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. tm

    In Texas, and the rest of America, it's called private property for a reason. I'm sure many land owners around the Bush property are very tired of the endless amount of people & traffic for the past 8 years. By now I'd be making myself clear to anyone that I was not putting up with people coming onto my property.

    The US government should certainly have someone always around being sure the press and other official people are staying out of trouble.

    From your story, it seems the Danish press guy hesitated, she should not have.

    March 2, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  25. David Davis

    Welcome to go home!

    March 2, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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