TEMESCAL VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- The suspect in an apparent intentional crash that killed three teens in Temescal Valley was charged with murder and attempted murder.
Anurag Chandra, of Corona, was charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the crash, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday. His arraignment was postponed until Feb. 21 and is being held without bail.
Chandra is accused of chasing down the teens after they played a prank on him. Authorities say the 42-year-old intentionally rammed a white Infiniti into the victims' Toyota Prius Sunday night near the intersection of Temescal Canyon Road and Trilogy Parkway.
The victims, who were 16 years old, were identified as Drake Ruiz of Corona, Daniel Hawkins of Corona and Jacob Ivascu of Riverside. Three other teen boys were also injured. They attended different high schools - Santiago and Centennial in Corona and Woodcrest Christian in Riverside.
The Prius slammed into a tree after the driver lost control and veered off the road. One boy died at the scene and two others were pronounced dead at hospitals. The remaining three victims sustained moderate injuries.
Chandra was arrested a short time later in a neighborhood near the crash site after the California Highway Patrol said a witness followed the suspect and helped authorities locate the vehicle.
"It was an intentional act," CHP Lt. David Yokley said at a news conference. "Our investigation led us to believe Mr. Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control."
Chandra's brother-in-law contends that the crash was an accident and that he doesn't believe he intended to harm the teens.
According to authorities, the boy's were having a sleepover and tried to play a "dong-dong-ditch" prank -- ringing a doorbell at a home on Modjeska Summit Road and quickly driving away. Chandra then got into his Infiniti and chased after them.
"My family and I have been falling apart. Jacob is the eldest of five kids and he was the third 'mother-father' figure, so we're all devastated," Alex Ivascu, Jacob's father.
In addition to the murder chargers, prosecutors filed a special circumstance allegation which could make Chandra eligible for the death penalty.
"It's just beyond what someone's reaction should be to someone ringing your doorbell and running away," said John Hall, spokesperson for the D.A.'s office.