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Airport director dies following shootout with ATF agents

Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport Sign
Jason Burt
Arkansas Business

Bryan Malinowski, the executive director of Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, died from injuries sustained during a shootout with federal agents earlier in the week. He was 53 years old.

A statement from Bill Walker, chair of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, was sent to media at noon Thursday.

Clinton National Airport
Bryan Malinowski

"With a heavy heart, we announce the passing of our executive director Bryan Malinowski. Bryan was a 16-year employee of the airport. 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,” the statement reads.

Malinowski was reportedly shot in the head following a shootout with agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives early Tuesday. He allegedly opened fire on agents attempting to serve a search warrant at his home in west Little Rock, injuring one agent.

Malinowski worked for the airport since 2008, serving as its executive director since 2019. The airport's deputy executive director, Tom Clarke, was named acting executive director earlier in the week.

Arkansas State Police are investigating the incident. A statement from former U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins, acting as a spokesperson for the Malinowski family, reads as follows:

"Our family has endured an unspeakable tragedy and one that is almost impossible to understand. We are mourning the loss of Bryan, who passed away earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the government agent who was injured yesterday, and to his family.

We do not understand the government’s decisions which led to a dawn raid on a private home and triggered the use of deadly force. We are obviously concerned about the allegations in the affidavit released by the government today. Even if the allegations in the affidavit are true, they don’t begin to justify what happened.

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. For now, we will wait for all the facts to come out. In the meantime, we ask that the public and the media respect our privacy."

Daniel Breen is News Director of Little Rock Public Radio.