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. coachbarbie

    Aren't we missing the point here? How about we don't have old people with large caliber firearms hanging out waiting to shoot someone for stepping on their lawn? Two statistics that should make everyone wonder–One, we have more gun violence/murder in this country than any other industrialized first world nation. Second, we have the most lax gun laws. NRA, do you have a response? I'm a hunter, and I own guns. I live in the rural midwest. I own firearms that have legal licenses and that are LOCKED AWAY so no one can get at them. If someone entered my house you can bet I'd be more dangerous with a baseball bat than a gun anyway, and I don't want to take the chance of my son and his friends playing with them (even though they've been taught gun safety) and accidentally killing themselves or someone else. Happens all the time.

    On another note, can we not write in to these boards if we can't spell or use correct grammar? Many of us sound like we have third grade educations.....You can't really make a salient point if your message is so garbled that no one can understand it. The Americans on this board basically sound like a bunch of Neanderthals. Good day, all.

    March 3, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  2. ron

    with boneheads like texans and some of the other posters here, it's a wonder that we have any friends left in the world. i'm sure that the danish will think twice before they send any help for the war on terror.

    March 3, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  3. richard lee

    I hope the rest of the world does think badly of the US for this incident.... if it keeps just one obnoxious idiot foreigner from visiting
    or moving here legally or illegally than it was well worth it!!
    go granny go!!!!!!!

    March 3, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. Vicki from Texas

    Some people just don't understand that this Woman probally lived all of her life in her place in the country. It was President Bush that has intruded into her space and brought all these people with him. When you live in this area, you keep a gun for protection of your property from animals and intruders. This man was intruding. She must have felt threatened.

    I guess someone that has not lived in the country can't understand.

    March 3, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. crockett, texas

    If a strange man is on your property, you have the right to ask him to leave, and have means for self defense ready. If this man was a rapist instead of a journalist I'm sure we all would suddenly have a different view on gun rights.

    March 3, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. Andy J, NY

    wait until there is someone on your property who you don't want there, and the police are pathetically slow to respond... Sorry to all you liberal fascists, but this is America and we are allowed to own guns to protect our homes. Keep the government out of our personal affair, and stop looking for hand outs.. yeah i'm talking to YOU, liberal idealists and cry-baby minorities.

    March 3, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. wysiwyg

    What threat? The presence of someone talking on his cell phone?

    I suppose she'd be justified shooting children from the school if she catches them throwing toilet paper up in her trees. That'd be a real threat to her life, right?

    March 3, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Mark

    What people fail to see is that this is AN OLD WOMAN living next to a high profile person that a lot of people don't like. Now there is someone that has, at the very least, a thick accent she may not recognize on her lawn. Did she overreact? Yes. Was it completely unfounded? No. Texans aren't ignorant. We're just sick of the people trying to force your skewed and socialistic "values" on us. We know our rights and as always will protect them. Even when the rest of you are too afraid to.

    March 3, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. Mike

    It is unreasonable to support this woman. It wasn't the middle of the night and he wasn't actin strangely. He was a man on a phone. Good old common sense says you go out and politely ask him what his business is on your property and ask him to leave if you don't want him there.

    Why is everyone here who supports her so afraid of anyone disrupting their little worlds. And why does that fear warrant a gun to resolve?

    March 3, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Julie

    I think the old lady overreacted a bit. It's not like the reporter was peeking in her windows or something or giving her a real reason to pull her gun.

    I have people accidentally wander into my yard and I will watch them until they leave but I certainly don't feel the need to pull guns on people just because they are near me. But then again, I live in a suburb and not in the middle of BanjoBeltBuckleLand, Texas.

    March 3, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Clif

    Just another example of the fear that Americans have due to the media. 'If it bleeds, it leads.' I have neighbors that have a gun next to their bed and they have never been robbed or the victim of violent crime. They have the gun because the media has made them scared of their own neighbor. How sad is this?

    March 3, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. MO

    It would seem to me the reporter had a false sense of security. If he was in, say, Denmark, would he have done the same thing? What about Baghdad?

    Just because you're in the middle of nowhere, that doesn't mean the law - and common sense - does not apply. If I was home alone and a stranger is standing on my lawn with a cell phone, I'd be afraid too. Home invasions, robberies, and murders happen in rural America too. The disturbing part is that the reporter was so unaware of his actions he didn't even realize the woman had a gun.

    March 3, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. jason twombley

    DANG !! a bunch of idiots you anti gun fanatics are !! the old lady did NOT shoot anyone, simply had a gun in her hand; learn to read idiots, dont make your own story. Hurrah for the woman defending her property AND her rights.

    March 3, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. casey

    OMG you people have gone crazy! PERIOD YOUR NUTS!
    Just imagine if it was a little boy or girl retrieving a baseball or frisbee, little old granny going to execute little kids?
    Right to bear arms doesn't = the right to shoot anyone they want!

    March 3, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Texas Proud!!

    I'm a NATIVE Texan and PROUD OF THIS AWESOME STATE OF OURS!! This Granny was only protecting her property.....who knows, she could have been robbed before and wasn't going to let it happen again!!

    March 3, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. Larry the Cable Guy from TEXAS


    March 3, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  17. Kevin

    Welcome to Bush's America: mistakenly wander on to someone's property and have the threat of being shot. I wonder if this stupid, idiotic woman knew that this man had done it by accident as he was being distracted by his note taking.

    March 3, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  18. Anonymous

    You do realize that she lives next to the president-she has probably seen her share of crazies in her yard and should have every right to defend herself. There is no need for stricter gun control when you live there.

    March 3, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  19. Tom

    Quit whining. You don't live here and you were not there so you don't know the circumstances. You will be glad to have us gun owners around when you need us. We have the right to bear arms, as cited in the US Constitution and this lady was exercising her right.

    March 3, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Not A Texican

    Those Texican's are funny.... 🙂

    March 3, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  21. Carl DeFranco

    Thank you, Sane Texan, and shame on the rest of you who applaud such behavior...and Round Rock, please take comfort that I, probably along with lots of other people, will avoid a state where life is held in so little regard that you have reverted to the old "Shoot first, ask questions later" mentality of the old frontier.

    I'm just waiting for the first huge award from a civil wrongful death suit because someone thought that permission is the same as justification.

    Perhaps there is a reason many people have a prejudcial opinion of Texas,

    March 3, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  22. Marine

    If you people don't lilke how we do things in Texas stay the hell out and take that liberal Hillary and communist Obama with you.

    March 3, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. Ämpäri

    Daniel said: "Most people would step to their door and demand the stranger leave." I disagree. Most of the people would say "Sir, are you lost. Can I help you?"

    March 3, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. AGuy

    While Texas' Castle Doctrine does give homeowners some leeway in shooting incidents, had this woman shot I doubt she would have gotten off. In most of the US what she did would be considered "brandishing" and would have resulted in her arrest.

    March 3, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. Ed


    Where in the midwest are you REQUIRED to have a license to own guns?

    You can own a gun without a license in MOST of the country and the term license is never insofar as I know applied to firearms.

    The legal terms and names are different typically.

    Having lived in the midwest I know of one state which requires a card and it is NOT referred to as a license to own. You can get a permit to carry or a piece of paper in some states showing your are legally able to buy with no criminal record.

    But Unlike cars the term is not license.

    Tell me which state if you can and I will believe you REALLY are a gun owner.

    March 3, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
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