At about 10:30 p.m. last Sunday, a group of six teenagers was having a sleepover when they apparently decided to go for a drive in the oldest teen’s Toyota Prius. When they passed Chanda’s home, the lads purportedly dared one of the younger boys to “ding-dong ditch” him — a juvenile prank in which they knock on the door or ring the doorbell and then run off before being caught. In this particular case, the teen was purportedly able to get back into the car, and then his group drove off.
This reportedly enraged Chandra, and authorities say that he chased down the boys in his own car. According to a companion CNN report from the time of the fatal incident, Chandra’s vehicle allegedly struck the boys’ vehicle, sending it careening off the highway and into a tree.
Three passengers were trapped in the car and had to be extracted with the Jaws of Life. One died at the scene, and two others died later. Per CNN, their names are Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu, and Drake Ruiz. The remaining three were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
Chandra, for his part, reportedly drove away from the scene.
TEMESCAL VALLEY CRASH: CHP says this man, Anurag Chandra, intentionally rammed vehicle carrying 6 teens, killing 3 of them — they’ve been identified as Daniel Hawkins, Drake Ruiz and Jacob Ivascu, all 16. | DETAILS ON @ABC7 5:30am. #abc7eyewitness pic.twitter.com/u4E8vzuiev— Marc Cota-Robles (@abc7marccr) January 21, 2020
Authorities at first thought this had been a routine hit-and-run. However, witnesses who followed Chandra home alerted police to his whereabouts, and it was later learned that he had allegedly deliberately rammed the teens’ car.
Chandra now faces three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Additionally, prosecutors are looking to add “special circumstances” to this case, which would mean that, if he’s convicted, he would be eligible for life in prison without parole, or even the death penalty. However, California suspended capital punishment in 2019.
The families of the victims say that the teenagers didn’t know Chandra.
“It’s just beyond what someone’s reaction should be to someone ringing your doorbell and running away,” district attorney’s office spokesman John Hall said.
This is not the first time that a game of ding-dong ditch has turned violent. As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, in 2016, an 14-year-old Oklahoma boy was shot, allegedly by an enraged homeowner, after ringing the doorbell and trying to flee. The homeowner would later say that he was afraid the teenager was going to rob him. He was found not guilty of assault by a jury.