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. Iowa City is COLD

    How can the rest of the world take us seriously when every person we don't know scares us to the point that we'd actually murder them because they got too close to us?

    March 3, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. jsh

    This is what you get in America, not a "your on private property, please leave." But, a "I got a gun and your on my property so I am going to murder you if you don't run away." What a sad day for American when you can't walk up to a house without having to worry about some scared old coot shooting first and asking questions later. Thanks NRA for making my country your shooting club.

    March 3, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. Ronnie

    Great, hicks with guns. There's no reason for anyone to have firearms at home – all it takes is a slightly imbalanced person or an overly emotional one and there would be a fatality. All of these situations can be resolved without firearms but way to go America with your warrior culture.

    March 3, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. jsh

    I traveled all over Europe and never once felt threatened by a gun. I loved it and felt sad knowing that in my country the redneck vote had given so much power to the gun nuts that now I could not walk down my own street with such a feeling of safety that I had in Europe. I say guns only in the hands of the well regulated militia, that is cops, nat guard, etc. Lets end this nightmare of death and loss.

    March 3, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. Truth

    To all the xenophobes and right wing media-haters who have posted here: first, she did not know he was a 'foriegner'; second she did not know he was with the media. He could have been anyone from anywhere – to the gun-totting nitwit, it did not matter.

    March 3, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. KW

    I don't see the problem. I would have done the same thing. Good for her!

    March 3, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. Allan

    Was he looking in her window? Get wawy from her house.
    Welcome to Texas. If you don't like it GTFO.
    Oh and yesteday was Texas Independence day!

    The Unanimous
    Declaration of Independence
    made by the
    Delegates of the People of Texas
    in General Convention
    at the town of Washington
    on the 2nd day of March 1836.

    March 3, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. Truth

    To all the xenophobes and right wing media-haters who have posted here: first, she did not know he was a 'foreigner'; second she did not know he was with the media. He could have been anyone from anywhere – it could have been you. What would you have done? I bet you would have pulled your gun...

    March 3, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. JOYCE

    hillary has not took care of business, she is being investaged for campaigh fraud for year 2000
    and why has no one said any thing about the deal the clintons had with a mine in canada why they were in office, put millions of dollars in their pockets, no don't show tax returns. go to new york times to find these issues/ vote for obama

    March 3, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. billy

    stupid danes!.. u folks are good at making cookies i ll give u that but dont mess with texans... imagine all u city folks for instance leave ur apartment door open and someone comes in and is talking on his cellphone...private property is Private it the apartment or front yard or back for that matter

    March 3, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. geoff

    The amazing thing here is not that some whacko Texan acted as whacko Texans will, but that so many people who commented think that what she did was just great! Isn't Texas in the "Bible belt"? What would Jesus do?

    Also, how many Texan tourists wander around Europe making no effort to speak the local language, and, when not understood by the locals, just speak Texas English louder? What if Europeans had guns?

    March 3, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. Anonymous

    It's called the"lone Star" State because no one wants to go there

    March 3, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. Carmen

    I am a liberal from NY and I don't think she did anything wrong. In point of fact, she did not shoot him, she only threatened. He was on her land. I happen to agree with the previous comment regarding the wrong headline, Idiot Journalist on cell phone.

    March 3, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. lc hanford

    Some of you people are so blind, if you think this country is bad go live in another and find out how lucky you are. America love it or leave it remember that you dumb a........When the ACLU and the other commies get done with America lets see what you will be saying then. You will be playing a different tune, mean while I'll be armed to protect what is mine. I you come on to my property I'll blow your butt away, I don't care if you or your family is starving because you failed to stand up for yourself. God bless America

    March 3, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. Chris

    Just another example of why the general population doesn't need guns. Police and law enforcement are the only people who should carry a deadly weapon- not gun-toting, obtuse conservatives. I'm glad I live in a state that doesn't allow this kind of insanity. If I ever so much as see a gun in someone's hand, I will immediately call 911. What tools American's make themselves look like.

    March 3, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. Shoot 'em

    you guys are smoking crack, i would and you would do the same thing if you noticed someone on your property without authorization!!

    March 3, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Anonymous

    If he was black, she would have shot first and asked questions later.

    March 3, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. Anonymous

    You know what...that woman was in her constitutional right to bear arms. Stop and think about it for a minute–you have a old woman who sees a strange man prowling her property... with as screwed up as times are...I'd fling out a pistol too. Between the cannibalistic murderers, the rapists, the home intrusions, and the con men who target older people....ya blame her? That woman probably had more experience with that pistol than the secret service men did with theirs. More power to ya, Sister!

    March 3, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Too much gun control will result in criminals having guns and no one else. They are not exactly following the laws to begin with. If you live in a rural area and something does happen, the police are not going to be there in seconds. you may have to defend yourself. Don't blame Texas for Bush way of thinking, he is from New Haven, Connecticut, and went to Yale and Harvard.

    March 3, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. Steve

    She was well within her rights. He (the reporter) was in violation. Being a journalist does not put him above the law or common sense.

    March 3, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  21. Fed Up American

    This just shows the level of stupidity that permeates this once great land.
    GUNS GUNS GUNS... When will we wake up and stop allowing so many guns to be in the hands of so many unstable people.

    Columbine, No Illinois , Virginia Tech, countless workplace shootings, Mall shootings, innocent kids by thousand shot at home.

    This madness MUST stop.

    The NRA must be stopped before we lose control of our society.

    March 3, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |

    He's not much of a journalist, eh?
    No clue where he is, what he's doing, what's in the woman's hands, or what the laws are.
    How did he get his job?
    I wouldn't want a strange man wandering around my property, either.
    Those of you who say you'd have no problem with a man wandering around your home are either lying, or ignorant.
    This was not a group of kids, it was an adult male where he did not belong.
    She did not shoot him, nor did she aim the gun at him.
    The media is overreacting, protecting their own.
    How typical.

    March 3, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. leon

    I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, supposedly the crime centre of the universe, and not even OUR baddies would shoot a Danish journalist!! Go granny go.

    March 3, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. charlie D

    If you are in trouble and call the police by the time they arrive all they can do is take pictures of your dead body and write up the report. The police can not be everywhere all the time, particularly in rural areas.

    This woman determined there "may be a threat" to her. She armed herself and meet the "possible" threat. She determined that he was not a threat and did not shoot him. What she did was legal and the non threat was not harmed.

    My question is what would have happened if this really was a bad guy and she did not have a weapon?

    March 3, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. Judi

    Have you ever been victim of a home invasion? Well I have. While I was inside, watching my door being torn from the frame and fall into my living room, had I owned a gun instead of mace, the story would have ended quite differently. Don't judge this lady until you have experienced it. (And I"m a Grandmother also.)

    March 3, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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