TEMESCAL VALLEY, Calif. - A game of ding-dong-ditch turned deadly Sunday night after a group of teens knocked on the wrong door, according to the mother of one of the victims.
Drake Ruiz, of Corona, Daniel Hawkins, of Corona, and Jacob Ivascu, of Riverside, were on their way to a sleepover with three other friends celebrating a birthday when they decided to play a prank by ringing on the doorbell of another teen before driving away.
“The boys were playing ding dong ditch at a house they thought was somebody their age — but it turned out to be that angry man,” Ruiz' mother, Debbie Ruiz, told reporters Monday night.
That man was 42-year-old Anurag Chandra, of Corona.
The mother said that after the teens rang his doorbell and split, Chandra got into his white Infiniti and chased after them in their Toyota Prius.
That's when the California Highway Patrol said that the teens' vehicle was intentionally run off the road.
"It was an intentional act," CHP Lt. David Yokley said during a news conference Monday. "Our investigation led us to believe Mr. Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control."
The Prius ran off the road and slammed into a tree near the intersection of Temescal Canyon Road and Trilogy Parkway.
Ruiz, Hawkins and Ivascu were all killed in the crash. They were only 16 years old.
Two 13-year-old boys and the 18-year-old driver were also injured and transported to the hospital. None of their injuries were said to be life-threatening.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether any of the teens were wearing seat belts, authorities said.
A witness said they saw the accident and followed the suspect to a nearby home, where CHP officers later located and arrested him. The white Infinity that was parked in front of the residence had significant front-end damage.
Chandra was booked on suspicion of murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon.
Police have still not released what they believe was the motive behind the crime.