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. Dave

    This is a gun incident? Yes a gun was in her hand, but there was also a strange man approaching this elderly woman's home. If she had the physical means to protect herself I doubt any gun would be involved. As it stands, she perceived a threat and took a precaution. She did not shoot anyone; she did not recklessly aim the pistol at the man or fire a shot in his direction.

    I shake my head at posts like "the world is laughing at you" and "I'm ashamed of our nation." When did it become appropriate to mock and scorn an elderly woman who was merely putting herself in a more defensible position?

    March 3, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Carol Crank

    1. She didn't use the gun, it was backup.

    2. He wouldn't have left is she hadn't had a visible reason for him to leave. He wouldn't have left just because a "woman" told him to, especially an older woman.

    3. Three cheers for the home owner! I'm glad she was successful in getting him to leave.

    I really doubt she would have used the gun unless he had tried to enter her house.

    March 3, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Glenn

    Note to 2ndAmdSuppter – you are a crazed gun nut. Take two aspirin and go to bed with your gun. Make sure that safety is on!

    March 3, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. Alex Mackin UK



    March 3, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Tom

    If I were an elderly woman, home alone, and saw a man speaking a foreign language into a cell phone standing only feet from my front window(look at the picture) I may have reacted the same way. She never pointed the gun at the man. She simply told him to leave her property, which she has every right to do. I have read many times in the news about home invasions on senior citizens where the women are beaten and raped, so good for her at not wanting to become another victim. I am a liberal democrat from NJ.

    March 3, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. Al Swearengen

    The grandma was just being clear in her expectations. For all those idiots that think owning a gun should be against the law, if you don't like it change it. All you have to do is amend the constitution. Have at it. Only problem is, 90% of Americans don't agree with you.

    March 3, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  7. ...from my cold, dead hands.

    Now you know why we haven't had a terrorist attack in Texas. No gun control unless it means you can hit what you are aiming at. Not now, not ever. And my granny, who stays at home by herself in a rural area has a gun and knows how to use it.

    March 3, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. Mike

    Oh my God, what a mean, nasty, hateful bunch of people Americans have become. Defending herself? Her property? Stupid, arrogant foreigner? Ungrateful Europeans?

    What has become of us?

    March 3, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  9. Mike

    All of you anti-gun nuts make me laugh. You whine about what a terrible country America has become. You twist the words of the press to suit your own agenda. The lady did not shoot. The lady was not senile (as far as the article describes her). This homeowner was well within her rights to protect her property. An armed elderly female would certainly need an edge again a younger male.

    Anti-gunners complain that there is more gun control needed. Do you folks STILL not understand that gun control won't work? All gun control would do is limit the law abiding citizens of the country to protect their lives and property. Criminals don't give a hoot about gun control laws...which is why they are armed. Wake up from your Utopian slumber and smell the coffee!

    March 3, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  10. Alex Mackin UK

    LOL. We DID have guns in europe.

    we just accepted the fact that arming people doesnt do much good.

    when you guys finally decide that 50,000 american gun deaths a year isnt really acceptable, i'm sure you'll follow suit.

    March 3, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  11. John

    The American south is full of the most uneducated, racist idiots the world has ever seen. No wonder the American economy is collapsing and Europeans win all the important awards at the Oscars. This woman's house is probably worth $30,000 (ie. 2 euros.)

    March 3, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Anonymous

    What a bunch of psychos some of the commenters are. The woman wasn't 'protecting herself' because nobody was attacking her. It was just a guy on the edge of her property, talking on his phone. Get over it. No wonder people think Texans are dumb.

    March 3, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  13. Shaun

    Well, she does have the right to bear arms, and obviously didn't shoot him, but people in this country are ignorant and trigger happy. Honestly, what is the logic behind her thoughts? If I have this gun I am safe? I am sure that if he had been a criminal, he wouldn't have been standing on her front lawn in the middle of the day, as such, a logical person would have asked him to move.

    March 3, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Bigdeal

    Coachbarbie..."The Americans on this board basically sound like a bunch of Neanderthals.?
    How do you know what a "bunch of Neanderthals" sound like?
    The coaches on this board sound like a bunch of idiots.

    March 3, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  15. Mark

    Americans. Even their IQ's were purchased at discount prices.

    March 3, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. bob

    That's Texas for you, solve all your conflicts with a gun, remind you of anyone?....

    March 3, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. ProundnaiveTexian

    Why should only law enforncement have firearms? If I called 911 how long would it take them to arrive if I needed help? I am it would be too late to help me if someone was trying to kill me. This is why I have CHL license so I can carry a handgun legally to protect myself and family.

    March 3, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. Diana

    First, from the photo, the man was standing right near her front door, and she is approaching in a non-threatening manner with the gun by her side. Many posts are saying "someone walks on your front yard so you can shoot him..."" hmm, he's still standing, he walked away... she didn't shoot him. She exercised restrainted and her legal rights, rights he, the reporter, violated as a visitor in our country.

    For those of you saying "in the rest of the world, you can walk on someone's lawn and not get shot"...Hello and wake up... In Dafur, you can walk on someone's street and get hacked to death with a mechete; in Columbia, you can be visiting, or even helping the locals, and you can be abducted, held hostage for years, raped and have your baby delivered in a jungle with a butter knife C-section; in Iraq, a little boy playing in HIS OWN YARD can be brutally burned beyond recognition...

    oh let's not forget, it's the Americans who are helping that little boy, it's the American soldiers trying to help in these other countries... that's right ....let's all hate the Americans, except for when we need them and their guns.

    Despite what you may think now, our founding fathers had the foresight to Constitutionally guarantee our right to bear arms for a reason.

    March 3, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  19. New York

    Only in America.

    March 3, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Nate

    ha ha! the only thing more funny then this story, is all the euro's showing up to smack-talk america. News-flash folks: we are a nation of self-reliant, independent, people, formed from the best your nations had to offer. Our ancestors got tired of your mindless tolerance to oppression, and in leaving, founded a nation where people are “allowed” to depend on themselves. We wouldn’t expect you to understand. If you did, you’d be one of us.

    March 3, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. therealist

    If a strange looking Danish jouralist mindlessly wonders onto my property he'll be looking down a shotgun too.

    Moral of the story:
    Hang up and pay attention to the bylaws if you don't want bad things to happen to you for no reason.

    March 3, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. jess

    She's just a crazy old woman, leave her alone. Us texans aren't all like that...

    March 3, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. Reason

    "I'm glad I live in a state that doesn't allow this kind of insanity."

    A person protecting their property while acting within the confines of the law and using the best tools for the job is not allowed in your state? Please tell what state that is so that none of us move there by mistake.

    "If I ever so much as see a gun in someone's hand, I will immediately call 911."

    As well you should; guns belong in holsters or other proper storage and only in the hand when their use is imminent. If you see a law abiding citizen with a gun in their hand, we would love it if you could call 911 for us, because we're probably a little busy.

    March 3, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  24. Rich Wyoming, MI

    Good for the lady! Protecting herself and her property, as the law allows her to do. And I'll be willing to bet that that gun is registered too – that she's complying with all of the laws on the books.

    Were it me, I'd've brought my own double-barrel shotgun out – even unloaded, a shotgun tends to get people's attention very quickly! 🙂

    March 3, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  25. Mark H

    What is truly amazing to me is that with so few facts on the matter everyone is so eager to characterize the people in the article as either a "gun totin' nut case" who brazzenly drew down on some poor unsuspecting innocent who came within seconds of being killed... OR "some insensitive jerk who practically stalked this "poor unsuspecting grandmother" who had no choice but to defend herself. It truly is amazing how with just a basic sketch we can fill in the gaps in our actual knowledge with our own prejudices and opinions. In point of fact that is what I find most disturbing about this article.

    March 3, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
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