New York: An Indian-American man is facing multiple murder charges after he intentionally rammed his vehicle into a car ferrying six teenagers in California, killing three of them and injuring the rest before fleeing, according to US media reports.
Anurag Chandra, 42, a resident of California's Corona city, was arrested shortly after the late Sunday crash that sent the car into a tree in Temescal Valley, southeast of Los Angeles, where police officials found his vehicle with front-end damage.
"It was an intentional act," California Highway Patrol Lt David Yokley told reporters on Monday.
"Our investigation led us to believe Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control. The investigation has now changed from a hit-run collision to homicide," Yokley was quoted as saying by the New York Post.
Chandra, 42, faces multiple counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, Riverside County jail records show. He is being held without bail.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said. The others were taken to a hospital, where two died later. It wasn't immediately clear whether the teens were wearing seat belts, NBC News reported.
The Riverside County Fire Department posted a statement on Facebook saying that a single car with six occupants hit a tree and that three of the car's occupants had to be extricated.
The injured teens are expected to survive. All six had attended Olive Branch Church & School in Corona.
"They were bright young kids that had so much to look forward to and it was taken far too early," said the institute's spokesman Tim East.
Yokley did not disclose a motive for the crash. "We really don't know," the officer said.
"Obviously, there was some sort of contact. We are looking into those exact same questions, of whether or not he was known to the victims" Yokley said.
Alcohol or drugs did not appear to be a factor in the crash, but toxicology tests are still pending.