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Arkansas airport director shot by federal agents dies, affidavit alleges illegal firearm sales

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The executive director of Little Rock's airport, who was injured earlier this week in a shootout with federal agents serving a search warrant at his home, died on Thursday.

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport said in a statement that Bryan Malinowski died at noon. He was 53.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said agents were trying to serve the warrant just after 6 a.m. Tuesday at Malinowski’s home in west Little Rock when someone inside fired gunshots at the agents, news outlets reported. 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.

In a heavily redacted warrant affidavit released Thursday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Malinowski bought over 150 guns between May 2021 and February 2024 that he resold without a dealer’s license, KARK-TV reported.

About a half-dozen of those were found after being linked to a crime, and undercover federal agents bought three more from Malinowski at Arkansas gun shows, the affidavit said.

Malinowski bought the guns through legal means and checked a box on the purchase form to say they were for himself, according to the document. He would then resell them in as little as 24 hours through gun shows where he maintained a table or through private sales.

In a statement, Malinowski's family called the shooting “an unspeakable tragedy and one that is almost impossible to understand.” The family said their thoughts and prayers go out to the government agent who was shot and his relatives.

The statement also expressed concern about the allegations in the affidavit and said that even if true, they didn't justify the use of deadly force.

“At worst, Bryan Malinowski, a gun owner and gun enthusiast, stood accused of making private firearm sales to a person who may not have been legally entitled to purchase the guns,” the family said, adding they would wait for al the facts to come out.

There was no immediate response to a phone message seeking comment that was left Thursday with an ATF spokesman.

Malinowski joined the management team at Clinton National in 2008 as director of properties, planning and development before being promoted to deputy director of the airport a year later. He took over as executive director in 2019.

Bill Walker, chair of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, said that under Malinowski’s leadership the airport saw “significant growth and success.” It offered condolences to Malinowski’s family.

“Bryan was a 16-year employee of the airport,” Walker said in the statement. “Under his leadership, our airport has experienced significant growth and success, expanding services and offerings to our community and state. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Bryan’s wife, Maer, loved ones and friends.”