(CN) – For a group of Southern California boys it was meant as a practical joke — ring a neighbor’s doorbell and run away. Now three of them are dead and the target of their prank faces murder charges.
On Thursday, 44-year-old Anurag Chandra of Corona, California was charged with murder in the deaths of three 16-year-old boys and the attempted murder of three other teens who were in the car on Jan. 19, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu and Drake Ruiz were killed after the 2002 Toyota Prius they were riding in was forced off the road by Chandra’s 2019 Infinity Q50 and slammed into a tree, according to the DA. The 18-year-old driver of the Prius and two other boys aged 13 and 14 were injured but survived.
The California Highway Patrol says the boys had a sleepover and one of the teens was dared to play “doorbell ditch.” The boys drove him to a nearby house, where he rang a doorbell and ran back to the car.
The house belongs to Chandra, who gave chase. Investigators say Chandra’s vehicle struck the back of the Prius, causing it to veer off the road and into the tree. Chandra fled the scene but was followed home by witnesses who called police, authorities said.
In addition to the murder and attempted murder charges, prosecutors intend to file a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.
Chandra is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday afternoon in Riverside County.