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. keith Franklin, Tn

    Was Cheney there?? We could have had a regular shootout....doggone it!

    Only in Texas can somebody "legally" come out and shot somebody for walking by or close or on their property. Sounds like good judgemnt to me. Wonder if this old lady told Bush to go into Iraq

    March 2, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. nick

    another argument for stricter gun control laws. Its insane that someone would feel the need to use a gun for something that would have easily been solved by putting up a fence.

    March 2, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Jeff

    Wow–another reason gun laws are too lax. Old ladies shooting foreigners. A great way for America to be viewed by the world. Come to Texas...We'll shoot Ya!

    March 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. Bayou Joe

    The moral of the story "Don't mess with Texas" or Texans.

    March 2, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. thomas pridemore west lafayette indiana

    To bad she didnt make him dance, the press needs to be humbled a bit. You all think you can do anything you want, guess he might think about that but i doubt it.(air head)

    March 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Ade, Memphis

    This is one singular thing I hate in America: GUN CULTURE!

    March 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. Rob

    More power to the old lady packing heat. If you lived near a celeb I bet you would be very wary of strangers as well. As for the reporter, ignorance of your surroundings is very stupid... the lady may have overreacted but at the same time, she has the right to defend herself and her property. She obviously views this guy as a threat and with all the protesting and everything else that must go on near Bush's ranch I can't say I blame her for this.

    March 2, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. Paul

    Good for her! Stay off the lawn.

    March 2, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |


    March 2, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. Xiaoli

    This pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with America...

    March 2, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    welcome to america, land of idiots with guns

    March 2, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. Jonathan

    Ah, nothin' like good ol' Texas hospitality! Sure makes me glad I live somewhere the sun hasn't baked all the sense out of our brains.

    March 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. TJ

    Another big "who cares" story from CNN, the leading name in good journalism.

    March 2, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Ryan

    Not to undermine the importance of the story, but was it written by a field amateur?

    Statements like "A Danish journalist came this close to getting shot" don't make sense in print.

    March 2, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. Mike

    This is why every Tom, Dick and Harry does not need a gun. If we had better gun control laws and worked to keep them out of the hands of criminals we wouldn't have incidents like this.

    March 2, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Chris

    Welcome to the US of A. This incident just goes to show that we can't get any more barbarian in this country! Fortunately the senile woman didn't choose to shoot him down. What a laughing stock we make of ourselves...

    March 2, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    The journalist is very lucky that he didn't go hunting with Dick Cheney, then his life would have been in real danger.

    March 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  18. Craig Hayes

    This is why we need to have gun control laws. We don't need senile and paranoid old ladies going around with a loaded pistol.

    March 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  19. Tom Penn

    When in Texas, if a little old lady tells you to get off her property – GET THE HELL OFF HER PROPERTY!

    March 2, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. PD from CA

    How... uh... charming. So much for baking cookies... packing pistols is the trend for today's well-armed grandmas. What an ugly country we've become.

    March 2, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Chris

    So why not get the elderly ladies opinion, Ed?

    Did it occur to you that she's had people as likeable as Cindy Sheehan in her neighborhood, too? The way the international press write about Waco, I'd say she's probably right to be skeptical of a foreign journalist 'wandering' (i.e. not bothering to observe signs, markers). You're making a pretty big leap in conclusions by suggesting there would be an international incident. My gut tells me that your pompous 'international media' buddies aren't the kind that respect rural landowners.

    Act like a gracious guest, you'll be treated like one. The way you 'characterized' this lady tells me you aren't the least bit interested in both sides of the story.

    March 2, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. John, College Park, MD

    That's her right to do if the journalist was on her property as was indicated by the "article". The journalist should watch where he is going next time.

    March 2, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. Gabe

    The heat in Texas must make people crazy. Someone accidentally stumbles onto your property, and you draw a gun on them. Preemptive strike?...This also explains the way President Bush is "thinking"...

    March 2, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. Adam G.

    For most people, the common sense thing would be to say "Excuse me, can I help you?" in such a tone that would imply: "Speak, or go away."

    I don't live in one of these co-called "stand your ground states", but even if I did, it would be unfathomable of me to grab a gun and walk outside and threaten somebody to get of my property without knowing what they're doing there.

    She should also know that, living next to the President of the United States and all, that there are going to be strange people on wireless devices, speaking strange languages, walking all over the place.

    I think this lady over-reacted, and I can only imagine the problems that would have resulted from an elderly woman shooting a Dane who was talking on his cell phone.

    March 2, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  25. prakash chand for HILLARY

    DONT MESS WITH that how they say it.

    March 2, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
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