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. Jacque Bauer

    Did no one read the news today? A woman and two children were killed in the morning on another remote Texas ranch. If you have never lived in the country, especially as an elderly lady, perhaps on her own and vulnerable, then you don't know what you are talking about.

    She was certainly within the law and taking care of herself. She did NOT fire, and it is ludicrous for this moron reporter to suggest that it was "this close". More people should stand up for themselves. Good on her and good on Texas.

    March 2, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    I believe this was a prelude to a full out Danish invasion.

    March 2, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    It's not as if she shot at him. A little old lady living along is not going to have time to run back in and get a weapon if she finds that the stranger in her front yard has foul intentions. She was prepared to defend herself, nothing more.

    March 2, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  4. NW

    I'm from Houston and all I can say is DONT MESS WITH TEXAS !!!

    March 2, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Bill

    Good for the little old lady.

    I loved all the anti-gun whacko comments. Just keep living in your fantasy world where you think the police will protect you from the criminals.

    It's not the job of the police to protect you. Their job is to try and catch the criminal AFTER they commit a crime. This is not a slam on the police. They do a great job, but they can't be everywhere all the time.

    Bottom line ... people have to protect themselves and their loved ones. No one else can or will.

    March 2, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  6. edb

    I'm not American, and you people need to re-read the story. At no time does it say she POINTED the gun at the journalist. She simply had it in her hand. There was a stranger on her property and she went out to investigate. The gun was there in case she needed it. He ran off like most Europenas do at the first sign of conflict and that was the end of it. Big deal

    March 2, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  7. L. Brown

    Reject – refuse, rebuff, decline or to deny.

    Denounce – criticize something publicly and harshly; charge someone with wrongdoing;
    Announcement of the end of an agreement

    March 2, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  8. orangutan

    I get a giggle out of those of you whose sense of fairness was offended because nobody reported the lady's side of the story. Sure, another reporter should have just strolled across her lawn and approached her front door...

    I live in a civilized country. Here, people are safe to walk onto my front lawn (or anyone elses) in broad daylight without being threatened with firearms. We let them use the phone, we give them a drink of water, we give them directiions, we buy girl-scout cookies, we contribute to the Heart and Stroke fund. What the heck is the matter with you mean-hearted, angry, xenophobic, gun-toting Texans?

    March 2, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  9. Brian

    Next time watch where your walking, this is how we do it in The United States, and if you dont like it, we'll bomb you. Any questions?

    March 2, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  10. Toronto Girl

    Hire this woman for the Mexico Border!

    March 2, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  11. gene

    Well, you Texans just ought to know, that Obama is one big "gun Control" guy and while serving in the Illinois Senate, supported gun cotrol legislation. You guys go ahead and vote for him, if he is lucky enough to win, you will just have to give up your guns. Maybe he will not even let you hunt.

    March 2, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  12. A

    I do hope the media does talk to the lady... It doesn't sound like the lady should have pointed a gun even if the guy didn't know where he was walking..

    Yes, the guy should have been paying attention but like most of us, we don't.

    The Secret Service should have spoken to the lady.. How far is her home from Bush's ranch? Too close for me!! No, I don't like Bush either but don't want him to be hurt.

    March 2, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. Gun Owner

    To those that are complaining about "stupid Americans", "redneck Texans" and "loose gun laws". . .when's the last time you saw a picture of someone from Gaza, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc who wasn't holding a gun or standing near the smoldering remains of a recently detonated bomb? This woman had a pistol, which she most likely has a permit for, not an AK47.

    March 2, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  14. Me

    This is precisely why gun ownership is a gun thing. The reporter got off the property and nobody was harmed. Only retards believe in gun control. As I only prove by asking the questions:

    1) Do you think the criminals will obey the laws. Their answer is ALWAYS NO.

    2) So why do you think the next law will work. The idiots never have an answer.

    March 2, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  15. gorg h javison

    Good for the old lady. BTW, she is not old just Texas-crazy.

    March 2, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  16. sabyen91

    Wow, being absent-minded is a shooting offense now? Wandering onto someone's lawn is good for a face-shooting, right? For those idiots saying, "What she did was quite alright"...what ever happened to calling 9-11. He made no threatening movements and I seriously doubt she could have taken the guy talking on a phone as a threat. You gun nuts are freaks.

    March 2, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. Hillary For Ohio

    I bet screwy George Bush did'nt know anything happend, Just like he did'nt know the price of gas is almost $4 a gal.!!!!

    March 2, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    In Texas, wandering on to someone's property is considered a huge deal, and threatening someone with a gun isn't a big deal. The civilized world tends to have different rules.

    March 2, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  19. Eric Thornley

    I don't know what is funnier, the woman in this story threatening a news journalist for wondering while talking on a cell phone, or some of the comments here praising the ignorant and gun-touting behavior. Whoever wrote the second amendment must be rolling in his grave.

    March 2, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  20. paul

    Let's not make more about this than it was. It was a little scare but nobody got hurt. Anybody who travels a lot overseas will have a few of these stories where someone almost got into serious trouble.

    March 2, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  21. tom

    ive never been to texas

    March 2, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  22. I Am America... and so can you !

    What else can you expect, in a country where Bush could get elected second time, even after all his mistakes was known.

    Who is more stupid, the stupid himself or the people who elected him twice?

    Bravo, nothing more to say.

    March 2, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  23. Bill

    It's Texas. They are still in the 19th century there. These people are knuckle draggers. It's the environment that produced George Bush.

    March 2, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  24. John M

    No, not "only in Texas".... Geez, people here are clueless. In the majority of states in the USA what this woman did is LEGAL and justified. It is in our Constitution. If you don't like it, write your US congressmen or state legislators and ask them to ratify a new amendment taking guns away from people, but if you do so make sure you take them away from everyone, including criminals AND law enforcement. If we can't have them, they don't need them.
    Also please stop being so ignorant. Law abiding citizens who possess guns are victims are far fewer crimes than those who don't – period, and by an enormous number.

    The notion that banning all guns will make us safer is ignorant as well. There are far more dangerous things out there than guns. Maybe we should ban those too.

    Simply put, guns save way more lives than they kill, and statistically speaking almost always only criminals kill others with guns. Ban guns and criminals wil still have them.

    March 2, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  25. Tim St. Louis Mo

    You think she is nuts, you should see the guy down the street.

    March 2, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
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