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. SDGrubby

    Oh, how stupid we hicks from the United States look. Why haven't we given up our rights to own property and tools. For you intellectuals that have never been outside of urban areas, firearms are seen more as tools for living than as weapons for killing people in rural areas (there is a reason that the popular model of Ruger's Mini 14 is the "Ranch Rifle.") When your dog starts barking at something you know there is something that needs your attention and may or may not be a threat. Badgers, cougars, coyotes are all things that your dog will bark at, and also can have rabies. The reason that carrying a firearm with you in urban areas and in Europe is that we don't have the luxury of having made any animal that may be a threat extinct in the area.

    I kind of understand why urbanites may see the need for gun control locally, but it shouldn't be a national issue because South Dakota is a much different place than NYC. I just ask that you be a bit more open minded for people from places you don't understand. I'm perfectly fine not carrying a firearm down the streets of your city, but don't tell me I can't carry a revolver when I'm hiking in areas with mountain lions.

    March 2, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  2. Bill From Michigan

    Funny how you sorry Dems and foreigners condem an old lady for protecting herself. She lives in the country and maybe all alone . How many times has this happened before to her. Rape ,robbery and killing happen every day in our cities to older citizens but you dont hear much about it thanks to the gun hating media and Democrats . These people have a right to protect themselves and a firearm is faster than your local police. As for CORY IN MARYLAND , you think a thug is going to worry about gun laws ? when someones breaking down your door what ya gonna do, call the cops ? their 10 minutes away , oh i forgot it will never happen to you !? Real Americans take care of themselves , Liberals and Democrats want someone to take care of them . FACT– Britains crime rate has increased 400% since they confiscated all the guns from law abiding citizens, But the criminals have guns !!

    March 2, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. Rob in Austin, Texas

    Texas is a different kind of place. If you don't like the rules (or lack thereof), don't come here.

    Been here 13 years and like it better by the day.

    March 2, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  4. Rodney-Dallas TX

    I love living in Texas, you break into our house, we have the right to shoot you. Should you get away, we have the speedy death penalty. Other states should catch up.

    March 2, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. Get real

    My elderly parents lived in Rural Texas and always packed heat around the ranch. No one bothered them in 70 years. And I never had to worry about them because they were insured by Smith & Wesson. I live in Arizona and I purchased the same insurance policy.

    March 2, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. LAW

    If you want to go somewhere where the laws are such that this cannot happen, go to Washington DC (yep, sure thing). Tell me, where would you be safer walking the streets at night? Rural Texas or downtown DC?

    Listen up all you criminals: "You must obey the law." There, that ought to make them take notice and turn themselves in.

    Stop and think how many crazies want an encounter with President Bush and who likely plague that area in Texas. Granny didn't shoot the disrespectful reporter, she only made it very clear she didn't want to be messed with.

    You also might want to check the statistics in England and Australia now that gun owners have had their weapons confiscated for the most part. That is sure working out fine.....if you are a thief or mugger. On the other hand look at the statistical results (if you care about facts) where concealed carry laws have gone into effect. Crime is down. Facts are such pesky things aren't they?

    March 2, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  7. Henry Fellows

    I like the last line in the story...

    "CNN was not able to reach the woman for comment."

    Probably the whole reason the lady was mad in the first place is that she is tired of the media circus that constantly invades her small town. I'm sure from her point of view the world could use a few less journalists!!

    March 2, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. Joh Smith

    Wow!! Thanks for letting us comment on these mindless articles, CNN!! How about you let us comment on some issues that actually mean something? Oh wait, I guess you'd actually have to start covering news that actually means something...

    March 2, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  9. jimbo

    Absolutely no reason to introduce a gun into a situation where a man is talking on a cell phone in BROAD DAYLIGHT, even if he happens to be standing on your lawn. And there were obviously other people around (the journalists across the street). It doesn't take more than 2 brain cells to figure out he was a foreign journalist.

    Remember the Japanese exchange student who knocked on the wrong door? DEAD, because of Texas gun culture paranoia. Thank God it didn't happen again.

    March 2, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  10. A. Democrat

    Yee haw.

    March 2, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  11. Angela

    That photo was taken with a telephoto lens. Look at how close that guy is to her house! If I were an old woman living out in the country and had some foreign-speaking stranger practically at my doorstep, I'd go out with a gun and tell him to get the hell off my property too. Those journalists need to learn some manners... and it would help if they did a little research on the customs and laws before coming to an unfamiliar area.

    March 2, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  12. Richard, FL

    There was another story from Texas today about another person with access to guns that felt they were being infringed upon. A 16-year-old girl and 3 friends shot her mother, father, and two brothers because her perceived rights to date were not respected. Only her father survived. The NRA would have fought all the way to the Supreme Court for her right to have guns right up to the point she pulled the trigger.

    March 2, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  13. Dave in San Antonio

    Do you think maybe she has seen her share of crazies living that close to the Bush ranch? She did nothing wrong. She did not threaten him. She simply had it with her if she neeeded it. She didn't. This time. Thank God for the second amendment.

    March 2, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  14. luckykid1

    u have to understand that this old lady is probably sick and tired of people around her house, as it sounds like journalists are always in the area. give her a break, she can do what she wants to.

    March 2, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  15. Bill Haywood

    Europeans can use this as a lesson. The United States is filled with morons almost as stupid as their president.

    They should be on their guard in all third-world nations.

    March 2, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Samuel Mullen-Perron

    You know, She did not know who he was or what he was doing there. As far as she knew, he may have been there to hurt her or burglarize her home. the way I see it she did what any normal red blooded American would do. I am from Oregon and they do the same thing there as in Texas. Oregon Legislature though is trying to get rid of the rights of Gun Owners. Alot of that is because of the Homosexuals who want their rights to do what they want and they figure that their lives are endanger because of the Gun owners. Good, let them think that. As for this incident, Great! I am pleased that people are taking a stand for their rights for a change and not backing down from a Facist Government who wiretaps our phone calls, monitor our emails, you name it! Maybe the Secret Service and that idiot that they are protecting will take note now and realize just who runs this country.

    March 2, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. David

    Maybe she thought it was an immigrant crossing the avoid things like this in the future we should re-deploy our army in Iraq and put them on the border with orders to kill anthing that crosses the border....problem solved YAY!

    March 2, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. Patrick

    The lady should be sent to the psych unit. She's going to shoot someone just for walking on her lawn? Nut cake idiot.

    March 2, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  19. Bryan

    You are surprised that a reporter was standing on someone's property in Texas and they got a gun pointed at them? Is this supposed to be news?

    March 2, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  20. Bob

    Gotta love American gun control laws. Crazy.

    March 2, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  21. glhf

    and this ladies and gentlemen is why we should never fear an invasion from the south. The old ladies from Texas will eliminate any invading army.

    March 2, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  22. KW

    She appears to have never raised the weapon nor "drew" it as you so ignorantly state.

    She was an old woman, likely home alone, when a strange man came onto her property and started wandering around her house.

    She came out and asked him to leave, and he ignored her.

    Yes, she had a gun, as she was well within her rights to do.

    This isn't even an issue, yet you make it out to be a big deal.

    The commenters here who have a problem with the woman's actions are entirely out of line and uninformed.

    March 2, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  23. Orion

    Seems pretty simple to me.

    When in a foreign country, don't just wander up to people's front doors without paying attention. No big deal.

    She asked him to leave, was ready to protect herself if need be. He left. No troubles. She didn't aim at him, she didn't fire at what?

    And just because the President lives nearby doesn't give the Government the right to take away her Constitutional Rights as a citizen.


    March 2, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  24. kerry d

    i am a texan and a proud one. we have one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world. do you know why? because we are allowed to protect ourselves and our property. compare that with washington dc where they have the largest concentration of democrats and the highest rate of violent crime in the nation and the strictest gun laws. enough said.

    March 2, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  25. Lost in Moderation in Vermont

    Clinton News Network, I am writing here as you have deleted my other comments. I am finished dealing with so biased and censoring a network.

    March 2, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
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