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. Tal Gav

    Perhaps the concept of "Private Property" is something forgotten to the socialist Euro-trash. Certainly, the notion of private gun ownership is.

    I admire Granny's spunk and courage- she's got more of it than all you whining libs have at any age.

    March 2, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. Niky Ring

    Most Europeans will absolutely love this story.

    March 2, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  3. Jeremy

    Dick Cheney shot a man in the face.

    March 2, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  4. James Boyd, Dover, DE

    If the old lady had shot the journalist, half of Texas would have congratulated the old lady! Sad, sad, sad!

    March 2, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  5. Dan in MA

    since nobody got hurt, it sounds kinda funny... I focus on my work, but i also try to pay attention to people who are yelling at me and holding a gun. A gun is one of those things you just notice... The 1st Clinton pushed tougher gun laws, i bet the 2nd Clinton would do the same.

    Clinton '08!

    March 2, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  6. EJ

    Send a thank you note to the NRA – they fight hard to keep our gun rights and to allow people of all ages and mental states to remain armed so that anyone can repel dangerous Danish journalists and prevent crime. God bless them! Who knows what damage could have happened to that lawn if she hadn't acted so quickly?

    March 2, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  7. Tim

    Maybe I'm reading too much into this or just exhibiting my own biases , but I'm thinking that the journalist may not have been so lucky (1) if he didn't have on a jacket and tie, and/or (2) if he wasn't white.

    March 2, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  8. Joe Black

    CRAWFORD, Texas Texas the shoo tum up state. I think they need gun control.

    March 2, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  9. Gary

    I am reading comments like,"this will be good for our image in Europe" and "I really wish Texas would just secede already". Well, guess what. I am proud to be a Texan and we aren't going anywhere. And, I could care less about our "image in Europe". You bleeding heart liberals are acting like she shot the guy in the face first and then asked him to leave her property. The fact that she didn't shoot him, so there really was no "Gun incident" proves that she has the sense to own a gun.

    March 2, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  10. rick Austin Texas

    What yall are surprised that a Texan Grandma had a gun. My grandma gave me my first gun and taught me how to shoot it.
    Texas is different than the rest of the world.

    I thought all yall liberals loved diversity.

    We all have guns in Texas. Don't like it ? Too bad. Pry it from my Cold dead hand .

    You don't step on someone elses property without permission.

    March 2, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  11. Justin

    lol, its funny really when people are so paranoid, they have to get a gun when somebody steps on their property, whats wrong with this world?, on the other hand she could of been in one of those greatest lawn competitions, and didnt want her precious greens getting foorprints all over it

    March 2, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  12. Will

    Granny is bored and has no life except her television, and church on Sunday.

    If she truly did not like what she had seen, looking out her window, and truly felt the situation to be a treat to her and her property, she would have lock the doors and called 911.

    She was looking for trouble and was probably hoping for a chance to shoot anybody.

    March 2, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  13. Chris

    I'm a 70+ year old. I carry a gun and know how to use it. In an emergency, if I called 911, it would take over an hour for them to get here. I am not helpless and don't intend to be. There have been incidents in our rural area that make me most sympathetic to the woman in the article. For those of you who prefer to cower behind a locked door, aren't you glad there are those of us who would even protect you, should you need it? Thank God for this President and our military.

    March 2, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  14. Bob

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

    Thank you Corey, for showing us the most ignorant statement ever said on the internet. How dare our laws give anyone the right to protect their own property! How silly of us. Let's just tear up that silly Constitution, shall we?

    March 2, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  15. Like Forever man

    Come on folks, Don't pick on Texas

    It isn't nice to make fun of retards

    March 3, 2008 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  16. Rob

    Crazy old bag. Interesting how the issue of guns has been almost entirely overlooked during this primary season considering all the shootings on campuses and at malls, etc. I'm all for the right of individuals to own guns, but clearly there has to be some manner of action taken to keep them out of the hands of the mentally ill and children. I don't know if this woman was mentally ill or just a Texan. Sometimes, they're difficult to differentiate.

    March 3, 2008 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  17. Sherrick

    I am a Police Officer and I have no problem with this. Women (and others) should have access to firearms to protect themselves. We police can't be everywhere at once. And he was probably safer with her around than in Denmark where only criminals have guns.

    March 3, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  18. William

    Thr right to bear arms! Way to go granny! I am proud to be called a TRUE AMERICAN with you. Screw the Euro trash!

    March 3, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  19. P Martin

    I don't see what the problem is.. She was carrying a handgun?! If she wants to answer he door with a 357 Magnum, then more power to her.

    It's not as if she shot at him and missed. She came to tell him to leave the property and happened to be carrying her gun as a 'backup-plan' - If you don't like guns, move to Australia.

    "Currently Packing.. In Virginia"

    March 3, 2008 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  20. Lee

    There are a lot of ignorant comments here. My first thought was what if this guy had been secret service? Don't they have a right to be anywhere they need to be to protect the president? That's why I believe the old lady knew that this guy was a reporter and that's why she reacted that way to a perfectly innocent situation. The moral of the story is that ignorant people (regardless of age) should not own guns.

    March 3, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  21. Bob

    Look at the size of that house - how could he not realize he was wandering into someone's front yard!? We don't need more gun control, we need more cell phone control. Clearly the cell phone was the more dangerous device here. And clearly the issue is idiot Danes, not idiot Texans. He ought to go home and show the photos to his wife and children and say, "look at what an idiot I was in America!"

    March 3, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  22. Lisa

    Dont make this more than it is!!! Living by Bush I am sure this is not the first time this has happened...think about it people it is a no brainer. There are weirdos in the world..I own a gun too, some guy I dont know comes on my property I would do the didnt say she came out with guns a blazzin...shesh you all try to analize a situation do death...GET OVER IT!!!! Way to go Granny!!!

    March 3, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  23. Sam

    God Bless Texas!

    March 3, 2008 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  24. Sally Burroughs

    Here is another clear reason one should not drive and use a cell phone.....this guy can't even WALK and use a cell phone. He is so distracted he wonders right up to this womans house? Guess if he had been in his car he would have probably driven through her front door!

    March 3, 2008 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  25. Texrat, Fort Worth, TX

    The story says he was barely on her lawn by accident, not at her front door as one poster alleges.

    So if she's so concerned about her property, why no fence? People call the absentminded journalist an idiot, but geeze– sounds like this lady is short on sense herself.

    Yeah, he screwed up by being careless, but his "crime" doesn't warrant a death sentence. The lady overreacted IMO.

    March 3, 2008 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
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