Search

‘Something Stinks to Hell’ – Deadly ATF No-Knock Raid Raises Questions of Excessive Force

Bryan Malinowski, the 53-year-old executive director of the Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas, died two days after exchanging gunfire with ATF agents who raided his home at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. His death raises questions about whether he knew he was trading gunfire with federal agents or if he thought their no-knock raid was a home invasion. 

Malinowski’s family can’t understand what led to the gunfight and believes other less-lethal tactics should have been incorporated into ATF’s arrest strategy. 

“The ATF burst into his house, and they did it in a manner that was the most dangerous combination possible.” Bryan’s brother Matthew Malinowski told local media Wednesday. “The easiest way to have taken care of this situation – the most common way – would be to wait until he gets in his car, pull over and arrest him. Or you wait until he comes to work, and you arrest him there.”

One ATF agent received non-life-threatening wounds during the gunfight and is expected to fully recover. 

After the ATF SWAT team breached the front door, an agent whose name has not been publicly released shot Malinowski in the head with what his brother described as a “high-caliber rifle.” 

Brian Malinowski
Brian Malinowski (Photo courtesy of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport)

Private sales to prohibited persons? 

According to the ATF’s search warrant affidavit, Malinowski was suspected of selling guns at gun shows without a federal firearm license, including several sales to prohibited persons. The affidavit states he purchased 142 firearms from 2019 to 2023. 

Six handguns he sold were later used in crimes, the affidavit states. One of those arrested cooperated with ATF. In addition, undercover ATF agents bought three guns from Malinowski at a gun show. 

Malinowski was operating as a vendor with approximately 2-3 tables by himself. The tables Malinowski was operating had a rack with AR style pistols, two containers with various pistols, and several boxes of various types of ammunition. Underneath the table were recognizable gun boxes and other firearms not on display. The first undercover agent approached Malinowski, who began describing various firearms he had on display. Those firearms included pistols manufactured by Glock, SCCY, and Beretta. Malinowski further described the AR style pistols as not considered rifles because they did not have an arm brace on them. Malinowski stated he sells at gun shows in Benton (Arkansas), Conway (Arkansas), and at a music hall in Memphis (Tennessee). Malinowski stated he sells out of AR pistols, like the ones he had on display, very quickly at the Memphis gun show,” the affidavit states. “Malinowski stated he was a private seller therefore no paperwork was needed to be filled out for a purchase. Malinowski stated the customer just had to be over 21. Malinowski stated he receives payment via cash, PayPal, and Zelle.

A statement by Malinowski’s family who had seen the affidavit, said he was “accused of making private firearm sales to a person who may not have been legally entitled to purchase the guns.”

“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,” the statement reads. 

Malinowski’s family hopes something good can come from their loss. 

“We’re looking for organ donations, if possible. The funny thing is you can’t even do that because his body hasn’t been released by the ATF. So even if he was able to donate organs – and he’s got very many healthy organs – we can’t even do that because the ATF is not responding. So, not only is the ATF hurting him, they’re hurting other people, too,” Matthew Malinowski told local media Wednesday. 

Bryan Malinowski collected firearms and rare coins, his brother said. He was a prominent and respected member of the community, lived in an affluent West Little Rock neighborhood and earned more than $250,000 per year at the airport. 

“Something stinks to hell,” Matthew Malinowski told a local NBC affiliate Wednesday. 

The fatal shooting will be investigated by the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division. The CID commander, Major Stacie Rhoads, did not return calls seeking her comment Thursday. Once CID’s investigation is complete, state prosecutors, not federal, will determine whether any ATF agent should face criminal charges. 

According to his airport bio, Bryan Malinowski had more than 30 years of airport leadership experience. He first joined Clinton National in 2008 as director of properties, planning and development, and was promoted to deputy director a year later. He became executive director in 2019. Malinowski was a pilot and certified flight instructor. 

Bill Walker, chair of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, announced Malinowski’s death Thursday on the airport’s website:  

“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.”

A history of violence  

This is not the first time ATF has been accused of using excessive force. There were scores of lives lost at Waco, and a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Randy Weaver’s wife and son were killed during ATF’s Ruby Ridge siege. The agency’s infamous Operation Fast & Furious resulted in the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican nationals. 

After Waco and Ruby Ridge, as in Malinowski’s case, ATF officials were criticized for not using other less-lethal arrest tactics. 

In a similar raid last year, more than a dozen ATF agents wearing tactical gear and armed with AR-15s stormed the rural Oklahoma home of Russell Fincher, a high school history teacher, a Baptist pastor and a parttime gun dealer. Fincher now believes their goal was to scare him into relinquishing his Federal Firearm License. 

“It was like the Trump raid. They called me out onto my deck and handcuffed me. My son was there and saw the whole thing. He’s 13 years old,” Fincher told the Second Amendment Foundation last year. “They held me on the porch for about an hour. I was surrounded by agents. One by one, they yelled at me about what I was doing. In my mind, I decided if they were going to beat me up over every little thing, I’m done. As soon as I said, ‘If you want my FFL, you can have it,’ one of the agents pulled out a piece of paper and said, ‘Well then sign here.’ He had made three copies in case I screwed one up. It was exactly what they wanted. I was shocked.”

The raid prompted Fincher’s state representative, Justin “JJ” Humphrey, to call for a state grand jury to investigate ATF’s conduct. 

Humphrey, who has served as a law enforcement officer for more than 30 years, prepared a probable cause affidavit that he presented to the Oklahoma Attorney General and Fincher’s local sheriff, which outlines the crimes and civil rights violations he believes ATF agents committed when they sent the 12-man SWAT team to Fincher’s home. 

“I struggle with seeking charges against fellow police officers,” Humphrey wrote in the affidavit. “However, it appears ATF is abusing their police powers and violating their oaths of office. I believe the ATF has committed crimes and violated Fincher’s civil rights and due process of law.” 

Officials at ATF’s Little Rock Field Office did not return calls seeking their comments for this story. 

 

The Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project wouldn’t be possible without you. Click here to make a tax deductible donation to support pro-gun stories like this.

This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

45 Responses

  1. “accused of making private firearm sales to a person who may not have been legally entitled to purchase the guns.”

    And as a private individual sale that’s not illegal unless you had the intent to do it and did so knowingly, under federal law.

  2. Murdered over a license. I’ve said it before: the most egregious crime you can commit against the state isn’t terrorism, rebellion or insurrection. It’s failing to comply with arbitrary bureaucracy. Those paperwork and compliance crimes will get you killed.

  3. The ATF went in there ready and willing to kill him. There was no reason for a raid of this type, they had plenty of opportunity to arrest him outside the home and didn’t and they could have still executed their search warrant after arresting him outside the home.

    The ATF is sending a message to the gun community and that message is ‘We are going to kill you and will create the conditions under which we can do it and the president has essentially ordered your death by creating executive orders weaponizing us against you.’

    Basically, the overall picture; The guy did personal sales at gun shows. The ATF says he sold some guns to ‘prohibited people’ but that’s not illegal in personal sales unless, basically, he did it knowing they were ‘prohibited persons’. So maybe there was an ‘engaged in the business’ thing (which is a very grey subjective area) case to be made. Maybe there is a ‘should have done a gun show background check’ thing case to be made in this instance for personal sellers at gun shows. But most of these allegations are a result of ATF’s own creative ‘rule making’ and/or their interpretation due to being weaponized by presidential order.

    But none of what the ATF accuses justifies the approach they took with this heavily armed early morning no-knock raid. The guy had no history of violence, he was not ‘fleeing’ or a ‘flight risk, his history with selling/buying guns clearly indicates he believed he was operating within the law and buying/selling as a collector hobby and not for the purpose of ‘business as a firearms dealer’ and does not indicate any intent to knowingly and willfully violate the law, he was a family man and paid his taxes and had a job and was a participating member of the community. There is nothing that indicates he was a risk to anyone. The ATF had plenty of opportunity to arrest him outside the home and still could have served their warrant and searched, its not like they had no other opportunity and heck they could have even arrested him at one of the gun shows. But instead of letting him have the opportunity to defend himself against the charges by simply arresting him at any other time, the ATF has to plan a public spectacle to send a message and create the conditions under which they can justify what without a badge and the letters ATF would be ‘murder’.

    It doesn’t matter if this guy may have done something that’s considered illegal by the ATF’s interpretation from creating ‘rules’ thus defacto unconstitutional law, or under federal law – there was no justification for how the ATF did this. This was intended so the ATF could create a condition where they could possibly exercise their readiness and willingness to kill, and that’s exactly what was created here. The ATF has a long history of unnecessary excessive force and creating conditions to willingly use that force.

    At least the guy got off a few shots in defending his home from what was thought to be an illegal home invasion by unknown people, and in the process did wound one of the ATF agents, so good for him and I hope that ATF agent suffers some for his willingness to go along with this travesty.

      1. so basically what it comes down to this: The ATF accuses ‘straw purchases’, and ‘selling guns without a license’ (due to the bipartisan safer community act ‘definition’ recently, or in other words ‘as a business’), a few guns to prohibited persons – none of which they substantiate he had intent to do knowingly and willfully.

        The ATF had been following him, had a tracker on his car, knew where he was all the time, literally had hundreds of other times they could have arrested him. But instead, on the most flimsy of excuses, not justification but excuse, in the entire thing the ATF chose to literally create a condition where they could possibly exercise their readiness and willingness to kill and that’s exactly what they did and, essentially, murdered him.

    1. “But instead of letting him have the opportunity to defend himself against the charges by simply arresting him at any other time, the ATF has to plan a public spectacle to send a message and create the conditions under which they can justify what without a badge and the letters ATF would be ‘murder’.”

      Waco, Texas… 🙁

    1. Go after the actual criminals. It seems pretty simple. Democrats prefer to use the power of the state to go after people they’re politically opposed to. This show of force directed toward non-threatening people is so common now, it barely registers. Democrats love a good show of force from Big Daddy Government.

  4. Questions…

    Six handguns he sold were later used in crimes, the affidavit states.

    How do they know he had previously purchased those guns if they don’t track serial numbers?

    In addition, undercover ATF agents bought three guns from Malinowski at a gun show.

    Why not arrest him then? Because he wasn’t doing anything that was illegal? They based their warrant on legal activity that they didn’t like. The warrant was a fishing expedition because they were politically opposed to what he was doing.

    …firearm sales to a person who may not have been legally entitled to purchase the guns.

    Did they also track down that person, and shoot him in the head?

    …accused of making private firearm sales to a person who may not have been legally entitled to purchase the guns.

    If I make a private firearm sale where it’s legal, do I commit a crime if the buyer is prohibited? Shouldn’t that be on the buyer?

    1. basically what it comes down to this: The ATF accuses ‘straw purchases’, and ‘selling guns without a license’ (due to the bipartisan safer community act ‘definition’ recently, or in other words ‘as a business’), a few guns to prohibited persons – none of which they substantiate he had intent to do knowingly and willfully.

      The ATF had been following him, had a tracker on his car, knew where he was all the time, literally had hundreds of other times they could have arrested him. But instead, on the most flimsy of excuses, not justification but excuse, in the entire thing the ATF chose to literally create a condition where they could possibly exercise their readiness and willingness to kill and that’s exactly what they did and, essentially, murdered him.

      Its not a violation of federal law to make a personal sale of a firearm to another individual without doing a background check, but its is a violation to knowingly and willfully with intent to sell a firearm to a prohibited person. If you did not do that knowingly and willfully with intent, they can’t do squat to you in the end if they can’t prove that you did so knowingly and willfully with intent.

  5. Can you imagine the nationwide stink this would generate if this poor guy was in a protected class? You know, like a drug dealing gang member nurse. Say his name!

  6. So y’all are cool with opening fire on cops now that it’s the ‘right kind’ of person doing it?

    1. “So y’all are cool with opening fire on cops now that it’s the ‘right kind’ of person doing it?”

      Absolutely no one here said that. Stop trying to twist it.

      The ATF had been following him, had a tracker on his car, knew where he was all the time, literally had hundreds of other times they could have arrested him. But instead, on the most flimsy of excuses, not justification but excuse, in the entire thing the ATF chose to literally create a condition where they could exercise their readiness and willingness to kill and that’s exactly what they did and, essentially, murdered him.

      Had they not done this non-knock raid, a man would be alive today and able to respond to the charges that quite frankly could have been beaten in court.

      But court or not, charges or not, the guy did nothing that justified this no-knock raid, there is not one single thing, or even the collective, of which they claim he did, that justified this abuse of government power and force. That’s what we are talking about.

  7. The Empire is striking back. The view everyone, but themselves, as criminals who haven’t been arrested yet. The message is clear, “We are in control; resistance is futile.

  8. Sam the message is very clear. The end is near. The rath of government, its ugly head did rear……. I can’t think of any more
    so I’m going to get a beer

    1. “Sam the message is very clear. The end is near. The rath of government, its ugly head did rear……. I can’t think of any more
      so I’m going to get a beer.”

      Recommend Champipple. The ethereal combination of cheap champagne, and Ripple.

  9. So, the way I read this is, if I sell a few guns, then they get stolen from the people I sold to, is AFT breaking my door, shooting me and my dog, then everything is my fault because some “prohibited person” ended up with a gun that I bought.

    1. “So, the way I read this is, if I sell a few guns, then they get stolen from the people I sold to, is AFT breaking my door, shooting me and my dog, then everything is my fault because some “prohibited person” ended up with a gun that I bought.”

      Actually, under the new definition of “dealer”, if you sell a single gun in a private sale, you are a dealer. Selling at a loss still qualifies you as a dealer.

      The anti-gun mafia can create unconstitutional laws faster, and cheaper than 2A defenders can fight them in court. Eventually, the mountain will consume the village.

      1. “Actually, under the new definition of ‘dealer’, if you sell a single gun in a private sale, you are a dealer. Selling at a loss still qualifies you as a dealer.”

        Not exactly. They still need to prove you intended to act as a dealer-requiring-a-license(FFL).

        That was problem for the ATF in this case – they did not have actual evidence of intent thus why they did not have an arrest warrant, because they could not substantiate actual probable cause that a crime had been committed, which is why they needed the search warrant to use it as a fishing expedition to possibly find intent thus probable cause for an arrest.

        This is still the United States Of America – intent to commit a crime or criminal offense still needs to be proven ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.

        1. “They still need to prove you intended to act as a dealer-requiring-a-license(FFL).”

          From the proposed ATF rule defining “dealer”:
          “Rather than establishing a minimum threshold number of firearms purchased or sold, this rule proposes to clarify that, absent reliable evidence to the contrary, a person will be presumed to be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms when the person:

          (1) sells or offers for sale firearms, and also represents to potential buyers or otherwise demonstrates a willingness and ability to purchase and sell additional firearms; [63]”
          (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/09/08/2023-19177/definition-of-engaged-in-the-business-as-a-dealer-in-firearms)

          The Federal Register article is not really all that long a read, and actually informative.

  10. The ATF is sending a message to the gun community and that message is ‘We are going to kill you and will create the conditions under which we can do it and the president has essentially ordered your death by creating executive orders weaponizing us against you.’

    I’m a gonna love it when the same happens to the ‘first amendment advocates that oppose the second amendment’ – its going to eventually happen to them too if its not stopped and the Marxist soci – alist left-wing is not removed from power. Even now the Marxist soci – alist Biden is trying to gain control over the first and fourth amendment, even Katanji Brown a left wing justice on SCOTUS has said in a recent case, basically, that the government should have control over speech. Its gonna be a very big “told ya so” moment when it happens.

    I can imagine it now, Bidens (or democrats) weaponized FBI doing a violent no-knock raid on someones home because they posted on social media an opinion that government did not like and governments justification is ‘we think because we say so therefore give us a search warrant so we can fish for evidence’ (like what happened with the ATF in this case), and sending in what is basically an FBI hit squad like what was essentially an ATF hit squad in this case to do what they did to this guy.

  11. This is a disgusting travesty! The ATF team involved, the judge that granted a no-knock order for a SEARCH WARRANT, and President Biden should all face charges of FIRST degree murder. How could they not foresee what would happen??!! ATF didn’t pull him over in his car because they didn’t have enough proof he had committed any crimes. There is no arguable reason for ATF to carry out a search warrant without a simple knock on the door. Mr. Malinowski did not deserve the death sentence for defending his home!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *