What started off as a birthday gag ended in an unspeakable tragedy as a California man allegedly intentionally chased down and rammed his car into a group of teens who pranked him, killing three of them.
Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins, and Jacob Ivascu, all 16, were en route to a birthday sleepover Sunday, January 19, along with three other teen friends when they decided to play ding-dong-ditch, Fox11 in Los Angeles reports.
The lighthearted game consists of ringing a door bell and then taking off. In this case, the group thought they were pranking a peer, but instead they rang the doorbell of Corona resident Anurag Chandra, 42, Ruiz' mother, Debbie Ruiz, told reporters Monday.
“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,” she said, according to Fox11.
Chandra allegedly became so irate over the harmless prank that he got in his car and chased down the Prius full of teenagers before smashing into it, resulting in the deaths of Ruiz, Hawkins and Ivascu. It was Ivascu’s 16th birthday.
Two 13-year-old boys and an 18-year-old, the Prius' driver, were injured, but all are expected to recover.
After the collision, Chandra allegedly took off and left the children for dead.
"It was an intentional act," California Highway Patrol Lt. David Yokley said during a Monday news conference. "Our investigation led us to believe Mr. Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control."
Chandra was arrested Monday and charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, according to local station KABC.
Chandra is no stranger to being accused of violence. He was already facing charges of spousal abuse and willful injury to a child when he was arrested, the Press-Enterprise reports.
Debbie Ruiz said that her son and the two friends he died alongside were always together, and that they were like the “Three Musketeers.” She says she is finding solace in the fact that “the kids are all in heaven together.”
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