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. Billy H. Adams, Santiago, Dominican Republic

    Before you condemn this "little old lady" for weilding her gun "in defense of her property", maybe you'd better take a look at past incidents where strangers have invaded one's property in broad daylight for nefarious purposes.
    I might add that people in Texas don't suffer fools lightly and are very possesive of their rights, both private and property wise.
    Maybe more should be as aggressive in protecting their rights as this lady, then there might just be less crime in the world.

    March 3, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  2. Praetorian, Ft. Myers, FL

    Nuf said...

    March 3, 2008 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  3. Mike Rickey, Zephyrhills, FL

    You had better watch where you walk. Come on what an incident we could have had. The pres might have made a phone call and the whole thing would have been over. Or an the other hand we might have gone to war. Just because some stupid journalist couldn't stay on his own side of the street.

    March 3, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  4. Kathleen

    To the person who said people who own guns should be put in jail, you'd have to put bars all the way around Texas. And I believe Texans would probably provide labor and materials.

    If you use a gun illegally in Texas you may be invited into the speedy checkout lane called The Death Penalty.

    March 3, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  5. spirit of america

    Send Bush back to his gun-crazy neighborhood. Now. And send Hillary Clinton to the White House so our nation may finally be secured with sanity.

    March 3, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  6. Josey Wales


    March 3, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  7. Dave

    This is news why?

    March 3, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  8. Randy

    Good for her. Europeans thinks they own America. They only need America when someone is invading their country and they are too weak to defend it. Maybe the liberals that are so disgusted by this poor old ladies actions should go and live in peaceful Europe. They need you, we don't. BTW, did we ever get a tank you from France or England when tiny Germany was kicking their butts?

    March 3, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  9. Richp

    Seems like she did the correct thing, she should have first called police and then checked the back yard to make sure he was not drawing her attention while others came in the back. But then again if that building across the street is used alot by media crews whenever GW has guests she might be a bit ticked off. Any of you ever been around a media frenzy.

    March 3, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  10. snowbear22

    If that wandering journalist had stepped into a rattlesnakes yard,
    he would have gotten a real surprise.
    He was LUCKY it was only a little granny with a sixshooter.
    Yes she probably should have called 911.

    March 3, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  11. Billy

    Hey moron. Get of her property. We can still defend our rights on our own.

    March 3, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  12. Samuel Ireland

    What a gun crazy nation

    March 3, 2008 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  13. James

    That's a gun? I don't know. From the photo it could be her remote control.

    March 3, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  14. Carrie PA

    Funny story, lighten up people!

    Obama 08!

    March 3, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  15. jc

    Instead of walking outside with a gun in her hand, she could have picked up the phone and dialed 911 if she was so scared.

    Sit in the house, look out the window, hold your gun close by, and wait for the police to arrive or the man to leave.

    To have her first instinct be walking outside (closer to the man she is supposedly frightened of) with a gun in hand shows you how far away from "love thy neighbor" this country has truly fallen.

    March 3, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  16. Bill

    Yeah, Europe. Such a civilized place;

    A workers paradise where there's a soccer riot every 3 minutes or "immigrant youths" mugging, raping, rioting and setting fire to hundreds of cars over a cartoon. Yeah, Europe, you bastion of sanity, you.

    We have laws here and property rights. Deal with it. Personally, I'm ecstatic that you idiots are over there. The smart one left and understand that that individualism is something to be cherished and nurtured. not squashed by the all-knowing state.

    March 3, 2008 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  17. Elena

    If she were in NY there would have been a million blinking red lights, helicopters and she would have been rushed to a mental hospital...ya gotta love American diversity!

    March 3, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  18. Robert San Antonio TX

    I guess this moran won't WONDER AROUND in Texas. All you other morans crying about gun control she controlled the gun just fine did not aim it at him but was ready to protect her self and family. Its called old lady in the country

    March 3, 2008 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  19. Joe

    She didn't have any idea who that was – she had no way to know he was a journalist.

    And, if he was some kind of miscreant, the gun doesn't do any good inside in a drawer!

    I think she would have done better to have the weapon holstered. It would look a little less threatening.

    March 3, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  20. svenq

    maybe now you feregners'll stae out of my yarde.

    March 3, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  21. Daniel

    Wow...I lived in Texas for a year and it was the worst year of my life. Looks as if nothing has changed. I can tell you that I went to a public school in San Antonio and in the 5th grade I was teaching my teachers more than they were teaching me. This woman is likely a product of the public school system in Texas.

    March 3, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  22. bob

    i guess we're not in copenhagen any more, toto..


    something's rotten in denmark..?


    don't mess with texas..?

    March 3, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  23. AC

    That little ol' lady won't be a victim. Respect other's property rights.

    Looks like she did not point it at the reporter. She asked first. She was ready to protect herself.

    To an old lady, possibly living alone, a strange man standing in her yard IS threatening.

    You don't like it. Fine. That is your right to live in a different country. We let in all kinds of folks into this country. Last I checked, there are places in Europe that aren't so safe for their citizens either.

    March 3, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  24. Janet Bollero

    Then we wonder why there are so many shootings at schools and colleges... you're telling me that in a neighborhood where the likes of the President of the US resides you need a gun to get people off your property? Come on!

    Granny needs to take her alzheimers meds and someone needs to confiscate that gun. She can still wear her cowboy hat, ride her horse and pretend it's still the Wild Wild West.

    P.S. for those morons who think European Socialist countries have something wrong with them, think again. How many school shootings and violent deaths do you see in Europe (aside from the few mafia related thugs)? Look outside your country for once and for real! Not everything is perfect here.

    March 3, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  25. jim

    Someone should shoot you Corey, you ANTI AMERICAN piece of crap.

    Guns built this country, just try to take them away.

    March 3, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
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