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. Don't Mess With Texas

    Now son, you know not to mess with Texas don't you?

    March 3, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  2. Guenther Bading

    Did President George W. Bush listen to his neigbors before deciding on the war against Saddam Hussein???

    March 3, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  3. Heidi

    I live in Texas, own a pistol and if you come on my property I just might use it. You threaten me, try to steal anything or try to hurt me, I'll shoot first and ask questions later.

    March 3, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  4. Monkey Oil Jr

    I guess "messing with Texas" is now defined as walking nearby on a cell phone ...gosh dern that journalist was rather threatening.

    March 3, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  5. jjensen

    "um" how close is "this" close?

    March 3, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  6. Diane

    Need to stop & think here folks. Lady lives out in the country – who knows if she has been robbed, or worse in the past. Maybe she had a good reason for defending herself. She obviously was worried about something. And - she didn't shoot the guy. Next we'll be hearing that we should outlaw talking on a cell-phone while walking. He could have walked out in front of a car and got hit!

    March 3, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  7. JCF

    This is the most insensitive article I have seen on CNN. It's not a joke that someone doesn't want their privacy and liberties taken away. Imagine endless groups of people crowding on your property daily. Roads you take to work and town are blocked off by people who have no reason to live save for bashing Texans and Bush. Anyone would become frustrated, especially at nosy reporters who think their rights outweigh the privacy of others.

    Find something more worthwhile to report on – like why American students don't know where their own country is on a map – maybe even try something positive for a change.

    March 3, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  8. Katy Hill Prescott Az.

    Typical for Americans to meet all problems head on with a gun. Bush's legacy is an increasingly violent America.

    March 3, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  9. J. Anderson

    It would have been a fitting end if the Danish individual's bodyguard had shot her in the head for drawing a gun on him. Shoot first, ask questions later when somebody draws a gun on you.

    See the problems with this? Somebody arrest that ignorant woman.

    March 3, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  10. Anonymous

    For one, I don't give a holy hell what Europe thinks about us or our laws. We are the greatest nation for a reason. The Second Amendment and private ownership of firearms is only one of many reasons. As Americans, don't compare yourselves to the 'morally courageous Europeans", who in standing up for everything, really stand on nothing.

    Why do you care what the world thinks of you, when they're all trying to beat down the doors to COME HERE?


    March 3, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  11. Martlet

    Lesson learned: Stay off property that doesn't belong to you.

    March 3, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  12. swimalot234

    this woman is crazy at least shes not here amagian stepping on her lawn?

    March 3, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  13. Tony

    Just reinforces the saying, "guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people".

    March 3, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  14. Black Bart

    Hey Granny.

    You tried to shoot my pardner?

    Meet me out on the road today at high noon. No sheriffs.

    March 3, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  15. Jon

    This old lady was within here right legally. I notice that people are saying a need for stricter gun laws. She was on her own property and asked for the journalist to leave. It is not the governments job to tell americans not to have firearms on their own property. Read the constitution some time. Oh I forgot that the constitution only matters when it is handy for the liberal agenda. Take the entire constitution or none at all. Remember the 2nd amendment secures the others.

    March 3, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  16. Sandra

    Here's just advice for anybody who happens to visit Texas:

    Texans are very "funny" about our property. It's ours. We paid for it. We pay the taxes on it. And we're proud of it. Strangers on property, especially out in the country, is highly unusual and suspicious. If you live off the beaten path, you tend to know who your neighbors are and who are not. Don't fault the older woman for being alarmed at a stranger near her front door. Such a thing is unlikely in the country out in Texas.

    March 3, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  17. Mike

    Posters from outside Texas should note that President Bush's ranch isn't in the middle of a city. People who live in rural areas don't have the luxury of a constant police presence to protect them, and the elderly lady was being prudent in making sure she could protect herself.

    In rural Texas, there are only 3 types of people who will show up unannounced on your property wearing a suit: salesmen, preachers, and politicians. The best way to deal with any of the three is a good old fashioned pistol-whipping.

    Go granny!

    March 3, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. T. Cook

    The replies show how divided this country is........ you got the anti-gun crowd calling her a nut. – so sad. People this is not a little surburban neighborhood, to get to her house he had to be 1000 or so feet from the road. If you don't like the way we do things down in Texas (such as respect other's personel property) then leave. Go back to your own little self absorbed world and leave us the h*ll alone.

    March 3, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  19. Vince Casella

    I don`t see what all the fuss is about. In most states its perfectly legal to run unwanted people off your property so why are people picking on the Texas lady for doing so. As far as I could tell she didn`t point the gun at him or threathen him, just told him to get off her property. What`s the big deal??

    March 3, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. GW

    I am glad that people can defend their property in America. There are many places in America and outside America where you would be shot without warning. Land of the free doesn't mean you can just wander everywhere you want to without incident.

    March 3, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  21. B. Smart

    CNN why have you stop allowing Comments?

    March 3, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  22. Bill in Columbia Maryland

    If we could just take everyone's gun away from them, then we would all be safe. Let's hope Obama is elected so he can take our guns away from us and make us safe.

    March 3, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  23. Jen


    March 3, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  24. Jim

    Holy crap people, this lady is probably just tired of eight years of this kind of crap. Between the war protesters setting up tent cities on their land and the constant media attention I'm pretty sure that most small town Americans would be in a similar mood. It's my understanding that Bush doesn't have many fans in that town and most of it's tied to resentment from a Connecticut yankee playing cowboy and the constant stream of invaders. There isn't a small town anywhere that likes a bunch of "outsiders" hanging around tearing up the place.

    March 3, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. Terry

    Great! It's called "The Right to Bear Arms". Next time you should consider staying off of someone's property...

    March 3, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17