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March 27, 2024

Regular readers of this newsletter know about our “72-hour rule,” meaning it can be better to wait before jumping on a story because some details in initial reports almost always turn out to be inaccurate.  That’s just what we did in the case of an armed raid by federal agents on someone’s home last week that resulted in the homeowner being shot and killed.  In fact, we waited longer than that --- a week, in fact --- for follow-up reports that never came.  So we’re going with what we know.

This case was literally close to home:  Little Rock.

The first report we saw was from March 20 in THE BLAZE, saying that the executive director of the Clinton National Airport had been “seriously wounded” after an exchange of gunfire during an FBI raid on his home.

“At around 6 a.m. on Tuesday,” the initial report read, “agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives arrived to serve a search warrant at a residence in Little Rock owned by Bryan Malinowski, the 53-year-old executive director of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. Suddenly, during an execution of the warrant, shots rang out, leaving two wounded, including Malinowski.”  Malinowski, gravely wounded with a shot to the head, was “treated at the scene and then taken to an area hospital.”

An ATF statement said that the “subject of the investigation opened fire at ATF agents, resulting in an agent-involved shooting when an agent returned fire.”

Malinowski had no prior arrest record.  At that time, details about the search warrant had not been released, but THE BLAZE reported that neighbors were aware he did enjoy “buying and trading firearms.”  After the shooting, neighbors saw the agents removing “guns and tools” from Malinowski’s home and taking them away in a U-Haul truck.

Malinowski was reportedly the highest-paid official working for the city of Little Rock or its “quasi-independent” entities, with a salary of $264,000 a year.  His brother, Matthew Malinowski, said his brother had been at his current position for 15 years and had had “much to lose.”  He said his brother had “no incentive to do anything wrong.”  So it was a mystery.

The sad update to that story, in THE EPOCH TIMES two days after the shooting, was that Bryan Malinowski, 53, had been placed on life support at the hospital, where he died.  According to the ATF’s statement, he had been hit “multiple times” after firing at agents from inside the home.  One agent had been hit as well; he was treated at the hospital for a non-life-threatening injury.

As the ET reported, “The ATF believed he was selling guns without a license, and without asking buyers for the proper information.”

The Malinowsky family had released a statement asking for privacy, but his brother Matthew spoke up: “The ATF should have never raided him like they did.  You don’t send a whole group of people with high-armed weapons like they did at 6 in the morning.  Arrest him at work!  He goes to work every day.  He’s a very public figure. 

The family’s statement included a similar comment: “Even if the allegations in the affidavit are true, they don’t begin to justify what happened.”

By this time, the DOJ had unsealed the documents related to the raid, though redactions remained.  Here are those details, as reported by THE EPOCH TIMES.  (We’re not sure whether that’s a subscription-only story and want to make sure you see these.)

“The ATF obtained the search warrant to look for evidence that Mr. Malinowski may have been selling firearms without a license. They wanted to look at his cell phone to see if he had photos of guns, because those who ‘engage in the business of dealing firearms without a license, often take pictures and videos of their illegal activity and maintain those pictures and videos on their phones,’ ATF papers say.”

“They were after electronic devices, any storage safes, guns, ammunition, bank records, and they wanted to search his vehicle.”

This case was opened last November, when the partial serial number of a gun in a photograph got traced back to Malinowski as one of the purchasers, and agents saw that he’d purchased “many guns.”  Indeed, he had purchased quite an array of firearms --- 142 in all ---from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) in Little Rock, whose name was redacted from the report.  An employee with the licensee had told them Malinowski had usually bought his guns from and had them shipped to the licensee, who charged a $25 transfer fee.

The ATF had found that three guns purchased by Malinowski had later been recovered by police during traffic stops involving real or suspected marijuana possession.  One of these people had a robbery conviction on his record and was prohibited from buying or possessing a gun. 

The ATF had been given photos of Malinowski at a gun show in Conway, Arkansas, presumably by a confidential human source (CHS).  There was no identification, but at some point, someone at the ATF recognized him.  The problem was that he appeared to be selling firearms at gun shows without getting IDs and the requisite paperwork.

Then, this January, the day after a shooting and robbery in a California park frequented by the Norteno criminal street gang, a gun turned up there that they traced to Malinowski.

Later in January, agents conducted a sting, with undercover ATF agents going to Malinowski’s table at another gun show.  According to the affidavit, he told them he was a private seller and didn’t need any paperwork.  They bought firearms from him totaling $1,300.  (Note:  we’re not attorneys, but it seems as though they could have arrested him right there.)

According to court records, Malinowski had been under active surveillance since December and, in February, agents had put a tracking device on his car.

The ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT also did a story two days after the shooting.  They said that, according to the affidavit, Malinowski would buy firearms legally, specifying in the paperwork that they were for his own use, and then resell them at gun shows without background checks.

In the announcement of his death, they said the Arkansas State Police were conducting an investigation of the shooting, “at the behest of ATF and Little Rock Police.”  (That’s probably why we’re not hearing anything more: “The investigation is ongoing.”)  Federal rules require ATF agents to knock on the door and announce their presence and purpose before breaking down the door---er, entering the home.

While his younger brother was still on life support, the prognosis grim at that point, Matthew spoke to NBC News reporter Deon Hampton, questioning why agents tried to force their way into Bryan’s home so early in the morning rather than just approaching him at the airport.  He claimed agents “broke down [Bryan’s] door,” leaving him “no choice but to defend himself.”

He had flown in from Pennsylvania, essentially to say goodbye to his brother.  “There’s something fishy here,” he said.  “The ATF went after him in the worst possible way.  There’s no reason why they couldn’t have arrested him at work at the airport.”

Note: though federal armed raids are getting to be routine these day --- even to the point of raiding a former President’s home --- it should be mentioned that federal agencies have done this kind of thing for decades, and sometimes it has ended disastrously.  Why haven’t they learned to use this tactic more judiciously, as a last resort, considering that it can go so wildly wrong?  In this case, they KNEW their suspect was a gun dealer and would most assuredly be armed, reflexively defending his family and property.

We’re reminded of the totally unnecessary ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in January 1993, which sparked a deadly shootout and a standoff lasting almost two months.  This culminated in the death of 76 people, including 25 children, when a brilliant tactician, Clinton AG Janet Reno, ordered agents to go in with tanks and tear gas --- ignoring a message from Koresh conveyed by his lawyer that he and his followers would be coming out soon --- and the compound was consumed by fire.  One local reporter said at the time, “David Koresh was a fixture around town.  I don’t know why they didn’t just go up to him and say, ‘Hey, David, we want you to come down to the station for some questioning.’  He would’ve said, ‘Okay, sure.’”

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