‘No excuse’: Airport executive, ‘an outstanding neighbor,’ dies after early morning ATF raid

by WorldTribune Staff, March 25, 2024

The lawyer for the family of Arkansas airport executive Bryan Malinowski, who was shot by ATF agents serving a warrant, said the agency could have settled the entire ordeal with a letter or phone call rather than a pre-dawn raid on his home.

Malinowski, the director of Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, died from his wounds on Thursday. He was 53.

Bryan Malinowski

In a heavily redacted warrant affidavit released on Thursday, the ATF said Malinowski bought over 150 guns between May 2021 and February 2024 that he resold without a dealer’s license.

ATF agents were trying to serve the warrant just after 6 a.m. on Tuesday at Malinowski’s home in west Little Rock when the ATF claims that someone inside fired gunshots at the agents. The ATF said the agents returned fire, striking the shooter, who was identified as Malinowski. An unidentified ATF agent was also shot but the wound was not life-threatening, officials said.

The attorney representing the family, Bud Cummins, said: “Especially in light of the nature of the investigation they were conducting they suspected that this individual had crossed a line between being a private citizen, entitled to buy and sell guns into a position where he legally should’ve gotten a federal firearms license. If they really felt that strongly that he had violated it, they could’ve sent him a stern letter and told him he was in violation and told him to get a license. They could’ve called him on the phone or called his attorney and had him come in.”

Cummins said he believes the tactics the ATF chose were “outrageous for this level of accusation, this level of alleged violation with all the other facts and circumstances about the knowledge they had of this individual and his patterns, and his employment. There’s really no excuse for this.”

Cummins said the federal government “must be held accountable for what they do.”

“You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but the family deserves to know all the facts, and I don’t think any citizen in this country would expect or tolerate this kind of conduct if it happened to them,” Cummins said.

According to the affidavit, Malinowski would purchase guns through legal means, checking off a box on the purchase form that he was buying the gun for himself. He would then resell the just-purchased guns in as little as 24 hours through gun shows where he maintained a table or through private sales.

All the guns purchased by Malinowski were pistols, including 24 Model 45s by Glock and AR-style pistols, the ATF affidavit stated.

Before the Tuesday search warrant, the affidavit stated that ATF agents had planted a tracking device on Malinowski’s SUV.

Cummins said the family will be dealing with what is a “senseless tragedy” for some time.

“The loss of a loved one is always difficult, but the suddenness and the lack of explanation for why this had to happen has made this so much harder on the family,” Cummins said. “It would be difficult to convince me that there was any basis to come at 6 a.m., 45 minutes before first light, over an hour before sunrise, to a private home under these facts and circumstances.”

NBC News cited residents recalling Malinowski as a near-perfect neighbor.

“He’s been nothing but an outstanding neighbor — helpful and very giving,” said Sarah Aguirre, 30.

Shirley Wofford, 75, said that Malinowski was known to do handiwork around the neighborhood and that his wife often chatted with people as she walked the couple’s two pugs every day.

The couple would also bake cookies and share them with neighbors, Wofford said. She fondly recalled Thursday that after her husband died in 2014, Malinowski would come over unexpectedly and change the lightbulbs outside her home.

“We are all hurting badly about what happened,” Wofford said. “We don’t know what in the world happened. We are all dumbfounded.”

She said that the Malinowskis have had her over for Thanksgiving dinner and that neighbors would often gather at their home during the holidays.

Susan Lynn Duston, who lives next door, said the Malinowskis became neighbors 15 years ago and since then their families have shared dinners and one year watched the Super Bowl together. “He’s a good friend,” she said Wednesday, describing Malinowski as a “professional.”

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