A prankster who is a regular caller to shock-jock Howard Stern and calls himself Captain Janks fooled a TV journalist reporting on the Aurora cinema gun rampage by posing as a police chief in a phone-in interview and raising the Colorado death toll to 15.
Janks, whose real name is Thomas Cipriano, pretended to be police captain Dan Oates and told the anchorwoman on KUSA-TV that 15 people had died - one more than had earlier been reported.
"The 15th guy was furious because he was cut from America's Got Talent. Howard Stern rejected him," Cipriano said before TV producers realised that they were victims of a prank and cut him off.
Cipriano, 45, of North Wales, became a regular part of The Howard Stern Show thanks to a series of prank phone calls he made to radio and TV programmes where he would fit in references to Stern's show.
He has been a regular call-in guest on the show since 1989. On Twitter, he defines himself as "phony phone call artist and original Howard Stern Show super fan". His most recent appearance was in March.
In 1999 when John Kennedy Jr's plane disappeared Cipriano misled reporters into believing he was a coastguard official and gave phone interviews live on air with ABC, MSNBC and CBS.
"Just did a prank call to KUSA in Colorado. Anyone got it on tape?" He tweeted after his latest prank call as injured survivors and distraught relatives of the victims tried to come to terms with the latest gun outrage in the US.
Cipriano also retweeted reactions to his prank. "Hopefully police will track down idiot who just made prank call about shooting in #aurora and placed on air and mumbled about Howard Stern," tweeted Darren Ingram, a Finnish journalist.
"People disgust me. Looks like aother Howard Stern fan prank calls news organisation during major breaking news," tweeted Rachel West, digital content producer for Wavy News.