A Southern California man intentionally rammed his car into another vehicle carrying six teenage boys, killing three of them, after the teens played a "doorbell ditch" prank on him, authorities said Thursday.
The six boys, who were all friends, were in a Toyota Prius on Sunday night when the man allegedly ran his vehicle into theirs, forcing it off the road in Temescal Valley, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
The teens' Prius then collided with a tree, killing three 16-year-old boys: Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins, and Jacob Ivascu.
Sergio Campusano, 18, who was driving the Prius, survived the crash along with Daniel’s younger brother, Joshua Hawkins, and Jacob’s younger brother, Joshua Ivascu. The surviving three received non-life-threatening injuries.
Anurag Chandra, a 42-year-old Corona resident, was arrested shortly after the crash. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday charged Chandra with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. The DA’s office also filed a “special circumstance allegation of multiple murders” against Chandra.
On Sunday night, the six teens were having a sleepover when they dared one of the boys to “jump into a pool at night or ding-dong-ditch a house,” Campusano said.
The investigation by the California Highway Patrol confirmed that during their sleepover, one of the boys was dared to do a "doorbell ditch," the Riverside County District Attorney's Office said Thursday.
Being the oldest of the group, Campusano drove the group less than a mile to a nearby house.
Once there, one of the boys got out of the car, rang the doorbell, and ran back to the Prius, authorities said.
Chandra, the resident of the house, then allegedly got into his car and began chasing the teens’ car in his own vehicle, the DA’s office said.
“He got really close and I was like, What is this guy doing?” Campusano told NBC4. “And I felt like a nudge forward like he hit me from the back and I was like, There’s no way he just did that… like, this guy is insane.”
Campusano said that when the man rammed their car from the side, he thought, "If anything happens, I love these guys.”
“He just got next to me and I was confused. What is he going to do?” Campusano said. “I just saw him ram his car into my back. And I whipped into my window and I blacked out and then I remember I woke up on the floor. I don’t remember how I got there. I was shaking."
Authorities said Chandra fled the scene after the crash and went to a nearby house, where witnesses followed him. He was arrested shortly after the crash.
Police initially thought it was a hit-and-run but later investigated the case as a homicide after they found evidence that Chandra had intentionally rammed the teens’ vehicle.
He was scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. local time Thursday.