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. Rex

    Seems now that an armed lady asked a man to get off her property, everybody wants to ban guns. If you read the story again, you could make a case for banning cell phones. People don't watch what they're doing when they are on them, especially while driving. And yes, the journalist wasn't driving, but he should have been more aware of what he was doing.

    March 2, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. Matt

    As a Texan, I'm appalled at the way this woman handled herself but I'm even more appalled at a good lot here that think we're all a bunch of cowboy redneck hicks that will shoot anything that moves. This woman used poor judgment – It doesn't mean the rest of us do!

    March 2, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. "Yukikaze"

    ATTA GIRL, GRANNY!! I weigh 330 pounds, do heavy weightlifting and compete in amateur sumo: if this dumb Dane had walked onto my property, I'd have made a fence post out of him. If you can't live with the idea that Americans are entitled to defend their lives, liberties and property, then move to bleepin' Europe and don't come back.

    March 2, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. S Williams

    What a stupid, lame-brained over reaction to someone in your yard.

    What if he was a cop? He would have had to kill her.

    March 2, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. Osiris

    Better to have a gun and not have to use than to not have one and in a situation where you need to use it. She is elderly and lives by herself. What else does she have to protect herself from idiots who roam on her property? A broom!!??

    March 2, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. Ken Roberts

    This woman had a right to demand that the clueless journalist get off of her lawn. People need to pay attention to where they are going. That journalist could have been a burglar or a murderer for all the old woman knew.

    Everyone here that is arguing for more gun control really needs to get their head out of their rear end.

    March 2, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Ah yes, and if Granny takes a trip to my state and absent-mindedly wanders on to my lawn, I'll run out toting a gun and threaten to shoot her. Hope the Secret Service investigates as they should with someone this goofy and with a loaded weapon that close to our president!

    March 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Hugh

    Foreigners are hilarious to watch when encountering Americans with guns. We have visitors from Luxembourg sometimes and when we go somewhere and the pistol is in the car they still wonder how that can be legal...but in AZ it sure is.

    March 2, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. Kim, Paris, Tennessee

    Wow, and to think I was going to move to Texas.

    Do you suppose there's something wrong with the water in Crawford?

    March 2, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. Bob

    What a crack-up. Those blaming the journalist are probably the same folks that scream "You can't do that to me, I'm an American" when they're in Europe. I've never felt the need for a gun when asking people to get off my property.

    Maybe we should just give Texas back to Mexico.

    March 2, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. Kim, Paris, Tennessee

    To John G Charleston SC, I don't remember hearing about Bush getting blamed for Hurricane Katrina, although there's enough wind blowing out of Washington that I could see one getting those two incidents confused!

    The part that Bush had some control of was helping in the aftermath, which I'm sure if you look around Louisianna even today, you'd have to admit was handled kind of poorly.

    March 2, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  12. Tom Brown

    Judging by the previous mealy-mouthed, hand-wringing comments left by other readers on this story, it appears that I was right the first time: this writer really WAS aiming for the high school demographic, or at least the intellectual equivalent thereof.

    March 2, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. James Puckett

    I think that journalist needs to pay more attention to what he is doing.

    March 2, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. Nancy, Colorado

    I can't blame the lady. How else is she going to defend herself? She's 70 years old! Is she supposed to threaten him with a cane? How did she know who this guy was? What kind of person just walks across someone else's lawn, anyway? Maybe it is different in Europe, but I have always thought walking across someone else's lawn was a privilege reserved for dogs and children who don't know any better yet. How did she know he wasn't someone trying to do her harm? What was she supposed to do – call 911 and hope the police would show up in half an hour? God didn't make men equal – Samuel Colt did.

    March 2, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. Brian

    God bless America.... now get the heck off my yard before I shoot ya!

    March 2, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. cdy

    Once again reporting only what they saw from their point of view & accusing an innocent senior citizen of wrong doing . Reporters do say the man was walking back and forth looking for signal. From her point of view it would appear as someone possibly casing her home or getting ready to invade her home itself. The woman took the approach to stop this foolishness whatever it may have been now outside before it could possibly come inside or escalate. Bravo for her for having both the sense and the courage to address the issue in a controlled manor. Maybe if law abiding gun owners were in the area of our recent shootings at malls & schools they would have confronted one of the shooters before they shot & killed needless numbers of innocent Americans.
    When WORLD PEACE comes we can get rid of all guns. In the mean time everyone should carry a gun. Criminals would not know who they could accost and crime would go down.
    By the way. we only have his word that the journalist was really looking for signal, all criminals have a good excuse ready if they happen to get caught.

    March 2, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  17. AbeRed

    Dear Ohio.......................He who laughs last!!!!!!

    I'm sure entire hordes of the media have taken more than a few liberties, some of them probably of an indecent nature, on her property and the property of others in that area during the last 7 plus years. She's probably fed up with it all and Mr. Head Up You Know Where was the last straw. Go Granny, keep the 4th estate honest!

    March 2, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. STAN

    for all the people that agree with the old lady. If this had happen to an American any play in the world you would have said the people who live there are nuts. Example Cuba or France

    March 2, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  19. Charlotte

    Texans take care of themselves. Can you Imagine living next to Bush, makes me go burrrrrrrr.

    March 2, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  20. john

    Is defending the sancity of YOUR LAWN really worth threatening a person's LIFE? He was talking on a CELL PHONE you GUN NUT IDIOTS.

    This woman obviously has problems with PARANOIA if she thinks a man talking on a cell phone is a threat.

    A normal person (or at least a civilized one) would stay in the safety of her home and call the police.

    TEXAS: a primitive backwater country within a country.

    March 2, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  21. scallahan

    Denmark please accept a sincere apology from America. It's not your journalist that was the problem, it was the issue she felt her property was threatened. There is no further explanation and Thank God no one was harmed.

    March 2, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  22. Chris, Jacksonville

    Fear, pettiness and violence:

    What a wonderful culture.

    How Christain of her.

    March 2, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  23. SuperDuperObamaGirl

    Crawford Granny Packing Heat! - News @ 11!

    March 2, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  24. Orion

    Heh. In some parts of the world wandering around aimlessly can still end with you in somebody's stew pot. There's no indication that she pointed the weapon at him or threatened him with it in any way: She simply was an old lady living alone and a strange man, acting strangely, was wandering around her front yard. It was a perfectly reasonable response.

    Perhaps from now on the reporters will be a bit more aware of their surroudings.

    March 2, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  25. Chris

    Clearly this is an ideal example of the gun control issue....she didn't shoot the idiot walking to her house...gun controled.

    March 2, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
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