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. Mike in Indy

    She had every right to protect her property and herself he could have been a nut job. She is elderly living in the country and if it were my mother I would want her to be able to do the same.

    This probably happens all to often living close to the President's ranch. I'm sure all these people are just sick of the populous showing up and sneaking on their property either to protest or to photograph the President. I for one am sick of the prying eyes of the media in everyone's lives.

    Bravo to this young lady! If Denmark and other Europeans don't like it than stay in Europe.

    March 2, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. son of liberty

    Idiot Europeans and other socialists/communists (xiaoli, chinese?). This sums up everything that's wrong with YOUR countries. Trust your government fools, in America power is in the hands of the people.

    Life, Liberty and Property.

    March 2, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. Dr.Richard Gaines(Cicero)

    Good for the lady. Media people do not own our world;
    especially foreign media people. Watch the hell where you wander,Old Boy !!!

    March 2, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  4. Terry

    He should have been more aware of his surroundings. When in foreign countries I pay extra special attention to my surroundings.

    She was well within her rights, and as long as we keep the likes of Hillary or Obama out of the White House citizens can count on being having the right to defend their property.

    March 2, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Kyle's point is literally that having guns is good and using them against the possibility of someone being a threat is acceptable. This is why we lead the world in gun deaths. When people who think Danish people are a threat, and they have guns and intend to use them, thats when a people are too stupid to handle the right to bear arms. You people need to live in a city. Thousands of people will walk by you every day, you'll realize nearly everyone is good and is not gonna mess with you, and then you can go back home realizing that your ways are predicated on a simple belief that people are inherently bad, which is just so fundamentally wrong it hurts.

    March 2, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    If some man was standing on my lawn, I would go out to see who it was as well. This old lady doesn't have the strength to overpower a would-be threat though, so she brought an equalizer with her.

    Pay attention and this won't happen to you.

    March 2, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Robert

    In most other civilized countries the journalist would have been asked if he knew where he was going and if he needed directions. So glad I don't live there typical...fear and money are the only motivators for most Americans (Bush got into the White house using this knowledge to the full extent)

    March 2, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. Rhino

    If any American honestly believes what this lady did was wrong, maybe it's time you took a few moments to reflect on the people and character that built this great nation.
    You may not personally wish to own a firearm, or even own property, period; but don't for one moment infringe upon the ability of any law-abiding United States citizen to do so.
    The way the liberal left has gotten so engulfed in forcing these whiny "politically correct" standards down our throats and into our lawbooks should be very disturbing to any of America's voting contingent.
    And far as how other "utopian" societies are viewing this incident – perhaps it's time they take a little stroll back to say 1938 and how different things may have been if more grannies were packing heat.
    And why the grannies of America had to send their grandsons over to Europe.

    March 2, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  9. Sandy

    You Europeans would stand with your hands in your pockets when your cities burn and your wife and children are being attacked.
    Europeans have lost their survival skills and expect others to save them.
    We bailed your butts during WW2, next time, don't call us, we'll call you. Maybe.
    My family sacrificed a LOT during that war, you ungrateful louts.

    March 2, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. Peter Coppenrath

    This article seems to be stretching, hoping to manufacture an incident out of irrational fear of civilian firearms. The woman saw a man acting strangely and out of character for the neighborhood. An adult male can be a significant threat to an elderly woman. She took the precaution of arming herself and told him to leave. She apparently did not brandish the weapon and the reporter by his own admission did not even notice the gun. Would it be preferable for her to hide in fear in her house? Did the reporter speak to armed secret service men during his visit? Was he is danger then? No, and he wasn't in any danger from the old lady with the gun either.

    March 2, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. Neil

    I find it interesting that few people stop to think that maybe this was an old lady who was possibly at home by herself when some strange guy came wandering around her house (and who knows, it might've looked like he was looking around).

    The point being, there's definitely two sides to this situation. The article never said she drew the gun nor threatened to use it. Simply, that she had it.

    What else is an old lady going to do if there's a strange man on her lawn? If she came out and told him to go away and he had said "no," she'd be pretty screwed, to put it bluntly. The gun was precautionary.

    March 2, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  12. California Voter

    Watch out for little old ladies carrying guns!

    March 2, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. Peter

    if u come against us in Texas (real or imagine) , we will mess u up 🙂

    March 2, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. E!

    you just bring out a gun without even a friendly: "please leave" first? what kind of nuts do you have in Texas? America?

    March 2, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. Aaron Smith

    A lot of the comments that have been left here just make me laugh. Everyone one is afraid of guns or even the idea of someone owning one. The old lady was not wrong by going out to see who was on her property and being armed. Innocent as it was, the journalist didn't need to be where he was.

    And for the record, Texas is covered in guns and it isn't a madhouse. If you don't like guns, live elsewhere.

    March 2, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  16. Gnomepark

    Neeeee HAW!!!! BANG BANG SHOOT SHOOT ...Gotta love them there Texans!

    March 2, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  17. Mike

    Whether you guys like it or not, the lady was perfectly right for what she did. It is her right to protect herself and these journalists had no right being on her property. Maybe in other countries you guys don't have such a thing as "private property," but here in Texas and in the USA we have such a thing.

    Sure, I may have not used the same tactics as the lady, but then again I am an able-bodied male. I would have simply walked outside (with my concealed handgun of course) to figure out what these strange guys are doing.

    People like this old lady keep criminals from going on a rampage here in Texas. This is why you notice that states like Texas have lower crime rates than other states which do not allow law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves from criminals.

    Don't Mess with Texas!

    March 2, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  18. Suzie from Texas

    I'm glad that he didn't get shot...but this just represents the MAJOR problems we face with the Republicans, old ladies, and the lack of gun control. One man can fix these crazy old ladies and other menaces to our society... Barack Obama!!

    OBAMA '08

    March 2, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  19. Jim

    Journalistic arrogance never ceases to amaze. How about respecting people's property?

    I don't care how "distracted" I've been in my life, I keep off of private property and so should you. Shame on you for blaming the old woman.

    March 2, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. Jin Yong

    This is not a "gun incident", it is an "attention deficit" incident, i.e., the journalist was not paying attention and wandered onto private property which was occupied by an elderly lady who did not know anything about his intentions. The lady did not fire the gun. The person who was not being safe in this situation was the admittedly absent-minded journalist, not the concerned and sensibly prepared elderly property owner.

    March 2, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. AP

    In Texas there is a particular kind of poisonous snake known as a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake is named for the rattle at the end of it's tail that it shakes in warning when it feels that it is in danger. It is a dangerous snake, but yet a very good snake. It not only helps control the rodent population, but also has the courtesy to warn those who invade it's space before striking them. This warning allows the ignorant and unware to correct their mistake of not paying attention to where they are going.

    I think that it would be wise for this journalist to rethink his criticism of this incident. Were he to be confronted by a real criminal, he might find himself lucky to have that "gun totin' granny" around.

    March 2, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. Pat

    He was not THAT close to the house. As you can see he was much closer to the sidewalk. If this woman was that concerned or annoyed with all the strangers spilling over from her very famous neighbour's home she should have put up a fence and a gate or at least a sign!!

    It is ridiculous that so many people are saying that they would have done the same thing. If you see someone suspicious lurking around your house, are you going to confront him/her with a gun??!! Wouldn't it make more sense to lock yourself inside and call 9-1-1??!! Especially if you are an old lady.

    Seriously people need to think about the very real repercussions that could have happened had she shot him. Sure, according to the law she would have been within her right, but what about her conscience. Would all those saying that they would have done the same thing be able to live with themselves knowing that they had shot a father/brother/son just because he wasn't paying attenting to where he was going? Not because it is legal to do something means it's the most sensible option.

    There's nothing wrong with being apprehensive and exercising caution but there's many things go awfully wrong when people overreact and this lady did just that.

    March 2, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  23. Ron


    Shoot first and ask questions later."

    Isn't Bush a Texan?

    Isn't that what he did in Iraq?

    March 2, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. Nick

    I didn't see anywhere in the article that the woman pointed the gun at him, she may have just had one in her hand at her side. It shows that the woman knows how to handle the gun, by not pointing it at someone unless she was ready to use it.
    The reporter should recognize that people do have property rights.

    CNN, your headline is VERY misleading!

    March 2, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. Aaron Smith

    I personally wouldn't have shown the firearm like she did but she still didn't do anything wrong. She was merely seeing who was on her land and brought protection, she didn't shoot him.

    America isn't ugly because of this.

    March 2, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
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