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. DRS

    You can thank the GOP and Bush for this. Backwater Texans.

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

    Okay, how do you become so preoccupied while talking on the phone that you wander onto someone's front yard. What was the reporter really doing?

    March 2, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  3. DR, don't mess with Texas.

    March 2, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  4. Scott Brown Palm Bay Florida

    And here we a have it. The perfect example of Democrats and Republicians. Democrats are the ones that think she is wrong and the Republicians support her. Who is better to defend our country. I will take take Granny over Clinton and Obama anyday!

    March 2, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  5. J. Morgan

    God bless America! If old ladies will pull guns on intruders, imagine the hell that an invading army would face!

    March 2, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  6. Alan Brito

    I know many Americans who do not lilke guns, and who will not support situations like this. However, there are some, perhaps to many, who believe everyone showing in front of their house is a maniac who wants to hurt them. Somehow, these are the ones who portray to the rest of the world that the US is a country of fear. Imagine yourself in a country road with a car broken, talking at the phone to get help, and approaching that house in the road to get directions. BANG!

    March 2, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  7. spinDr

    A granny packing heat.. yawnnn

    Reporters.. do find something else newsworthy. Go see what Darfuf looks like now, talk about poppy growing in Afghanistan, in short, something mature.

    Anyways, what more can we expect from the great CNN who has fallen to new lows.

    Pull your act together and concentrate on important, not trite like Britney's antics or Danes running wild on lawns looking for wireless signals.

    March 2, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  8. JT

    The way crime is lately you have to be stupid not to have a gun. A little old lady certainly has a right to be nervous about a man standing on her property for no apparent reason.

    March 2, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  9. Foreign Observer

    I'm glad I read this article.

    For a moment I thought Dick Cheney was campaigning in Texas!

    March 2, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  10. Art H

    I think too much heat and sun in Texas, boiled away what little brains the old hag had left.

    Toting a gun in broad daylight no less, to a guy on a cellphone, just because he happened to have strayed onto your property !

    March 2, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  11. Mark, Maryland

    This incident and the 16 year old girl who killed her mother, brothers and tried to kill her father because they wouldn't let her date someone. Both happened in Texas. Why am I not surprised.

    March 2, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  12. Mike

    Oh get off already.... it's not like the elderly woman was waving the thing in this guy's face and threatening to shoot him. He was safe, just someplace he didn't belong. Get your head out of the clouds and pay attention to where you are and stop acting like media people walk on water or something.

    March 2, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  13. Bob from California

    Reading all this reminded me of bicycle touring through Europe a few years ago... When my bike broke down and I approached a farmhouse to ask for help, I'm grateful no one pulled a pistol on me because I looked 'out of place'. Hopefully my many friends over there will forgive our paranoia and we'll look hard at what we've allowed our culture to become.

    March 2, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  14. johnny lawless

    Sounds like Barbara skipped some of her Alzheimer meds.

    March 2, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  15. Ed K.

    You gotta love Texas.

    March 2, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  16. Greg

    CNN bias for all to see.

    Hillary Clinton and John McCain in the page header, where is the Democrat front runner? Why show the 11 straight loss Hillary and not Obama.

    March 2, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  17. rey ramirez

    When reporters ask an audience or someone, ( what has Obama accomplished ?), there is no negative to that in my opinion! You can follow it up in the next moment with ( what has Hillary or John Mccain accomplished ), and they still will not know. So the question is mute, I would think.

    March 2, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  18. steve

    Uh to all the 2nd ammendment/ property-rights freaks on this blog.. a fence anyone? If she's so concerned about her property why not put up a friggin fence? Even a small one.

    However, I got to say that the reporter wasn't the brightest bulb in the bunch either. Doesn't he realise that in the USA is the land of paranoia; goodness, you never know what some person in a 2 piece suit talking on the phone right near the president's ranch might be up to.

    Best to shoot the sucker, just in case.

    March 2, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  19. John

    She is old and was defending herself using the best method. She probably did not even raise the gun but held it just in case.

    Exactly what I would have done if I was her. She probably has had to deal with a bunch of freaks in the last 7 years.

    And stop refering to politicains as "Leaders". It makes you sound stupid and childish.

    March 2, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. JS

    A lot of rural folks here in Texas are usually a very long way from local law enforcement. That is why so many of us have guns and take defending our property very seriously.

    If you are an elderly person and a strange man is loitering in your front yard and a 911 call means that a deputy might show up in about 30 minutes, then yeah... you're probably going to end up on the business end of someone's gun.

    We aren't gun nuts,we just know how to defend ourselves... you have to when you live out in the sticks.

    Take it as a lesson learned... oh and welcome to Texas.

    March 2, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    As someone who grew up out in the country near the Texas/Mexico border, I think Granny acted appropriately.

    March 2, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  22. mike

    How stupid – many on here would advocate shooting someone who had no harmful intent. Shame on you. That is a terrible sentiment.

    March 2, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  23. maybe

    it's possible the elderly lady THOUGHT that the man's cell phone (or laptop, or whatever else he was carrying) was a weapon, and got scared. she could also easily have alzheimer's or another condition which would cause her to not think clearly... she could be living by herself, and have grown up in a wilder texas, which is why she feels she needs a gun for protection... i think more information needs to be gathered on why she brought out a weapon, so the rest of the world won't think texas is crazy...

    March 2, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  24. Greg in MS

    That's what I call GUN CONTROL.
    Sounds like she handled the situation appropriately. She didn't shoot the guy, from the picture it doesn't even look like she pointed the gun at him. I'm sure the anti-gun folks would have shown that picture if she had.

    Well done ma'am!!

    March 2, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  25. HGM

    Hmm I think you of you want the 2nd amendment fine, but lets have an IQ test of at least 100 before you can own a gun. This would probrably rule out most of the state of Texas but at least this woman would not be sharing her stupidity with the rest of the world today.

    March 2, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
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