Man found guilty of killing 3 teens after they played a doorbell prank on him

A Southern California man has been found guilty of murdering three teenage boys by intentionally ramming their car after they played a doorbell-ringing prank on him. Anurag Chandra was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder, in addition to three counts of attempted murder.

The tragic incident took place on January 19, 2020, when Chandra deliberately drove the teens’ Toyota Prius off the road before fleeing the scene. The driver of the Prius lost control of the vehicle, and the car crashed into a tree in Temescal Valley, located around 60 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. All the victims were 16 years old.

Prior to the incident, the friends had dared one of the boys to participate in a game of “ding dong ditch,” which involved ringing Chandra’s doorbell and running away. Chandra, who was not acquainted with the teens, testified in court that one of the boys rang his doorbell and exposed his buttocks before fleeing. He claimed that he followed the boys out of concern for his family’s safety and to express his anger. Chandra admitted to being “extremely, extremely mad” due to the prank.

During the trial, Chandra also testified that he had consumed 12 beers in the hours leading up to the crash. He maintained that he had not intended to collide with the Prius and did not stop after rear-ending the sedan because he was unaware of any injuries. However, he confessed under cross-examination that he had been driving at 99 mph before the collision.

The crash resulted in the deaths of Daniel Hawkins, Drake Ruiz, and Jacob Ivascu. The driver of the Prius, 18-year-old Sergio Campusano, and two 13-year-olds, Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu, survived the crash. All three testified at the trial and were present when Chandra’s verdict was announced.

At the time of the killings, Chandra was already facing other criminal charges for an alleged domestic violence case. Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin thanked the jury for their verdict, describing the murder of the young men as a “horrendous and senseless tragedy” for the community and stating that the conviction marked an important step toward justice.