Arkansas Online

Little Rock airport director Bryan Malinowski dead after ATF shootout, commissioner confirms

Amir Mahmoud,Daniel McFadin,Joseph Flaherty

Bryan Malinowski, the executive director of Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field who was shot in the head by federal officers in a shootout Tuesday morning, has died, according to a statement from the airport.

"With a heavy heart, we announce the passing of our executive director Bryan Malinowski," said Bill Walker, chair of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission. "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."

He also offered condolences to Malinowski's family and friends.

Malinowski, 53, was left brain dead after being injured in a shootout with officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives around 6 a.m. Tuesday.

He opened fire on the officers as they attempted to serve a search warrant at his home, located in West Little Rock at 4 Durance Court.

His older brother, Matthew Malinowski, said in an interview Wednesday that Bryan Malinowski had been shot "with a high-caliber round."

It is not yet known why the ATF was serving the warrant.

“As you may know, this remains an active and on-going ATF and (Arkansas State Police) investigation that will be submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” a ATF spokesperson said in a statement.

Malinowski had served as executive director of the airport since 2019.

Originally from Pennsylvania, he earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from the Florida Institute of Technology and was a certified flight instructor, according to his bio on the airport’s website.

He joined the Little Rock airport in 2008 as the director of properties, planning and development after working for airports in Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania.

Malinowski went on to spend a decade as deputy executive director under then-Executive Director Ron Mathieu.

When Mathieu resigned in 2019 to take another job, Malinowski was named interim executive director.

“This is so very important to me,” Malinowski said from the dais after receiving the nod, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported at the time. “As an aviation professional, I do realize all the hard work by the people that surround you are what make you. I hope to do the very best we can not to miss a beat.”

The Airport Commission gave Malinowski the job on a permanent basis in November 2019.

Malinowski led the airport during the covid-19 pandemic, when air travel plummeted for a period of time.

During meetings of the Airport Commission — a fractious group prone to squabbling with one another over procedure — the understated, bespectacled Malinowski remained even-handed with regard to disagreements among his seven bosses, at least in public.

His base annual salary was close to $264,000, making him the highest-paid official working for the city of Little Rock or the city’s quasi-independent entities.