A California man who rammed into a car carrying a group of teenagers who pranked his door in 2020 was found guilty of murder on Friday.
Three teenagers died and three others were injured when they were hit by a car driven by Anurag Chandra, and the vehicle they were in left the roadway and hit a pole in Riverside County, authorities said .
A jury on Friday found Chandra, 45, guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
“The killing of these young men was a horrific and senseless tragedy for our community,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement Friday. “This is an important step towards justice.”
Killed in the January 19, 2020 crash Daniel Hawkin of the Crown; Drake Ruiz of the Crown; And Jacob Ivascu of Riverside. All were 16 years old.
The accident happened just before midnight in the community of Temescal Valley, authorities said. The area is about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Three other teenagers in the vehicle, including its driver, Sergio Campusano, 18, were injured.
Campusano said NBC Los Angeles that one of the boys rang the man’s doorbell and ran to their waiting vehicle in a prank known as a doorbell ditch or ding-dong ditch.
The teens fled in a Prius, with Campusano driving, but soon realized the target of the prank was chasing them, he said.
The man slammed into the back of the teen’s car, knocking it off the curb as it traveled along Temescal Canyon Road at Trilogy Parkway, Campusano and authorities said.
“I rushed out my window and passed out, then I remember waking up on the floor,” Campusano said. “I don’t remember how I got there. I was shaking.”
During the trial, Chandra said he drank 12 beers before chasing the teenagers and was “extremely, extremely mad”, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. He said he was also worried about the safety of his family at home at the time, the newspaper reported.
He said he never intended to hit the teens’ car, but hit them from behind after the Prius suddenly braked, Press-Enterprise reported. He did not stop after hitting the car because he did not realize there were injuries, Chandra said, according to the newspaper.
His attorney, David Wohl, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chandra faces life without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced on July 14.
The Associated Press contributed.