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. JP

    This ridiculously written article seems to vilify the lady, the state of Texas, and the USA. The journalist was all wrong, all the while, and should have been respectful enough to remove himself much sooner than he seemingly did. I can sympathize with the older lady, as my own grandmother lived alone for many years. The older she got, the more afraid she became. This lady had every right to defend her life while acting against an insensitive jerk. What a pathetic spin Mr. Henry has put on this.

    March 2, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  2. Relax Joe

    How about she uses a Megaphone next time? It's just a thought.

    March 2, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. Brenda Waters

    Like neighbour, like neighbour!!!!!

    March 2, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. Todd Dallenbach

    I don't blame the elderly lady for protecting her property. The Danish reporter needs to be less self-absorbed and more cognizant of his surroundings.

    March 2, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. Ranger

    Bush's strange actions draw alot of strange people..!!

    She had a gun ... simply for self defence!!

    March 2, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. Josh

    the postershot for gun control

    March 2, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. Rusty Shackleford

    I really wish Texas would just secede already.

    March 2, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  8. Chris K

    That seems about right for Texas. He's lucky the old lady didn't shoot him. However, if she was in jail John McCain would have one less voter in the fall – so maybe not such a bad thing.

    March 2, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. LW

    Good. Maybe the idiot reporter will be a little more careful in the future. Otherwise, if he didn't like it he can Go Home.

    March 2, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  10. Joe Adams

    Foreigners need to bone up on Texas law before they go wandering across the terrain. They need to remember that bullets don't care who you are. Bravo, lady!!!

    If he got shot, she'd be on solid legal ground for the hole in his body.

    March 2, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  11. Carol J.

    What a Welcoming message to send to our Danish friends !!!!!

    March 2, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  12. David

    This story seems a bit biased. I see nothing wrong or unusual in a home owner being legally armed on her own property, it would be stupid to do anything less in this situation. I say good for her. A strange man person standing in my front yard would receive a similar welcome.

    March 2, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  13. Ben

    Sounds like someone needed to pay better attention to their surroundings. That being said, I doubt the old lady would of really done anything unless the reporter seemed threatening somehow. That being said, the old lady certainly had the right to point that gun at him for being on his property.

    March 2, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  14. Jon

    Welcome to America

    March 2, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  15. John G Charleston SC

    Here it comes. A wave of anti-gun hysteria because some guy couldn't pay attention to where he was going.

    I'm interested to see how Bush gets blamed for this since he has so far been responsible for high prices at the pump, any number of terrorist attacks and my personal favorite was the time he caused that hurricane should be interesting to see the leftist take on this one.

    -A tidal wave of anti-gun posts


    -A tidal wave of people wishing the old lady would use the gun on the President


    -Some ridiculous comparison to Dick Cheney


    -Demands that we apologize to the entire country of Denmark for this

    March 2, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. Tony

    Only in Texas.

    March 2, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. Kyle

    Heck ya! Good for her! Not saying that this gentleman was a threat...but very easily somebody could be..and how is she to know the difference? He is awful close to her house..somebody i didnt know was wondering that close to my house i would be apprehensive as well.

    March 2, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  18. Kris Hansen

    I'm not sure what you normally write, but this piece reads like a blog entry more than a news story. The story is entertaining, but the first-person narrative was jarring. Consider this constructive criticism.

    March 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  19. kathy

    the old woman's a foolish hick!

    March 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. carl

    Nearly another tragic example of the insanity of the gun laws in this country.

    March 2, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  21. 2ndAmdtSupptr

    I'd rather trust an armed Texas grandma than I would Obama with his finger on "the button".

    March 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  22. CA boomer for CHANGE

    Oh...this will be good for our image in Europe.... It figures that she lives near W. It appears they share the same pholosophy about strangers in that part of the country. Apparently everyone is the enemy. Good thing Granny didn't start an international incident.

    March 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  23. LibbyLA

    I can see that most of those who've commented so far know little or nothing about firearms. It was a pistol, not a rifle or a shotgun. Pistols tend not to be particularly accurate beyond a few feet, unless it's a long-barreled pistol with a special scope. That is NOT the sort of pistol that granny would have been holding unobtrusively.

    Bottom line is that there was a strange man strolling around on granny's lawn. She had a right to tell him to leave and she had a right to have a firearm on her person in case said strange man turned out to be a wacko. She apparently did not point it at him or threaten him with it in any way. No harm, no foul, and I'll bet granny doesn't have any more problems with journalists wandering on to her property.

    March 2, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. jdude

    You know why everyone hates america right? And why everyone thinks you're stupider than a bunch of bricks right?

    March 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. bond

    Cheney's mom needs to chill out!

    March 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
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