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Police: Former ASU professor threatened to blow up the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell The Liberty Bell
TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

Police say a former ASU professor threatened to blow up the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Carlos Balsas, 41, is charged with making terrorist threats, bomb threats and several other offenses. According to police, he made the threats as he entered the historic site Saturday.

Two black backpacks were later found, but the bomb squad determined there were no explosives in them.

"He's weird. He was, I would say, unstable," said John Procaccino.

Procaccino's niece lives in the apartment above Balsas.

"I wasn't surprised at all. Why the Liberty Bell?" Procaccino asked.

That's a question we don't know the answer to yet.  What we do know is that Balsas started working at Arizona State University in 2004 as associate professor in the School of Planning and Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design.  In 2009 he started teaching at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.  He left ASU in 2011, but it's not clear if he quit or if he was fired.

He lives in a Tempe apartment complex where Procaccino is also a contractor.  Procaccino had been called to fix things in Balsas' apartment, but said Balsas acted strange about letting him inside.

"When I went into his place there were all these piles of stuff everywhere. He looked like a hoarder to me," Procaccino said.

Procaccino said his niece told him what happened.

"And said that this strange person that lives below me that you had a challenge with or had a challenge with you and you were going to turn him into Homeland Security because he acted so strange.  He just kind of fits the description of somebody that is demented enough to harm others," he said.

Balsas is charged with making terrorist threats and bomb threats.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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