About a month ago, Lucinda Whiting remembers, her boyfriend Calvin hid a small handgun high in a closet in the basement of her family's home in Camp Springs. The gun belonged to an acquaintance, and though no one in the family wanted it, it remained in the closet, forgotten, until Sunday night.

Then, shortly before 10 p.m., Whiting was putting the final touches on a cake she had just baked for her two grown children and her 7-year old nephew, Greg Hawkins, when she heard an explosion in the basement, where Greg and a 14-year-old friend had been playing.

"I ran downstairs," Whiting said yesterday. "I couldn't understand it because they had been playing with the football pulley I got Greg for Christmas. But there was the gun -- and there was my little boy lying on the floor in his blood."

Prince George's County police said later that Gregory Jameit Hawkins, who had lived with his aunt Lucinda since the age of 4 months, had been accidentally shot in the head with the handgun. He was taken to the nearby Andrews Air Force Base hospital, police said, but died in surgery about two hours after the shooting.

"You know, I've never had weapons around, or wanted them around, because I wouldn't know what the hell to do with one," Whiting said yesterday. "And that gun wasn't ours -- we didn't want it.

"You know, you hear about this sort

"You know, you hear about this sort of thing, you see it in the movies and on television, but you never, ever, think it will happen to you. Greg was the best little boy you've ever seen, he was like my own children. It's such a terrible, stupid thing."

Greg Hawkins, his aunt said, was an eager student, a Star Wars fan, and "the biggest little boy in the second grade. His parents, Jerry and Phyllis Hawkins, are separated, and Greg lived with Whiting at 4028 8th Street NE.

Although her two older children moved a month ago into the handsome, two-story brick home on Warwick Avenue in Camp Springs, Whiting chose to remain behind in Northeast, because she said, "Greg loved where he was going to school at Keene Elementary and I didn't want to move him."

On weekends, however, Whiting often stayed with Greg, her boyfriend Calvin, and his young son in the new home. There, she said, Greg could fully indulge his first love: football.

"I bought him a football... pulley [an exercise instrument] for Christmas, and they were in the basement playing with it," she said. "I heard some noise down there, and I went down and they had the pulley out.

"I told them to settle down and not to mess anything up in this house," Whiting said, "and then I came up to bake the cake so they could have some cake and milk before they went to bed. The cake's still there -- no one touched it."

Police said yesterday that the shooting has been referred to the state's attorney office for investigation, but that no charges had been filed last night. They were not releasing the name of the 14-year-old.