Who shot Selena Quintanilla and why fans thought she was alive? The tragic story ‘Selena: The Series’ won't tell you

‘The ultimate sorrow a human can feel is when someone dies... I felt like this was all a dream’

Who shot Selena Quintanilla and why fans thought she was alive? The tragic story ‘Selena: The Series’ won't tell you
Selena Quintanilla (Getty Images)
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She had a spark in her eyes. Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was not only the Queen of Tejano music but also the pride and joy of the Quintanilla family. When she was barely six years old, her father Abraham Quintanilla, Jr heard her melodious voice and realized she was going to be a star. “Her timing and her pitch were perfect,” Abraham told People magazine. “I could see it from day one.” From Little Anthony to Michael Jackson, Selena was passionate about all genres of music. Giving wings to his dreams, Abraham quit his job in 1980 and started his own Tex-Mex restaurant in Lake Jackson. Forming a new band Selena y Los Dinos, his three children — Abraham III on bass, Suzette on drums and Selena singing — won many hearts with their performances.

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The family traveled in a banged-up family van for cross-country music tours. “I lost a lot of my teenage period,” Selena once confessed. “But I got a lot out of it too. I was more mature.” At 15, she won the Tejano Music Awards for female vocalist and performer of the year and was soon dubbed as the 'Tejano Madonna'. The first part of ‘Selena: The Series’ delves into the singer's rise. Madison Taylor Baez plays the young Selena and Christian Serratos essays the role of the older Selena.

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Christian Serratos as Selena (Netflix)

How did Selena Quintanilla die? 

The reigning queen of Tex-Mex music's remarkable career was cut short at the age of 23 and millions of fans mourned the loss of the pop phenomenon. On March 31, 1995, Yolanda Saldívar — who was appointed as manager of Selena's boutiques in early 1994 — pulled the trigger on Selena in her motel room at 11.48 am CST at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi. Saldívar chased after her and called her a “b***h” as she collapsed.

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She was rushed to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead from blood loss and cardiac arrest at 1.05 pm. The autopsy report revealed that the bullet “entered Selena's upper right back, near her shoulder blade, passed through her chest cavity, severed the right subclavian artery, and exited her right upper chest.” In the days before her death, her father told Selena to “be careful” after the family discovered that Saldívar had embezzled more than $30,000 from both the fan club and the boutiques. “The ultimate sorrow a human can feel is when someone dies,” her father told People. “I felt like this was all a dream.”

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15 days later, her vigil was held at Bayfront Plaza in Corpus Christi which drew 3,000 fans and hours before, conspiracy theories floated around that Selena wasn't dead. People Magazine reported, “At one point a rumor swept the crowd that Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was still alive and that her coffin was empty. Finally, her family ordered the coffin opened briefly to confirm the unacceptable truth. And there she lay, her lips and long nails done in blood red, wearing a slinky purple gown.”

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Fans of Selena and Latin music wait at the 'Selena Vive' tribute concert (Getty Images)

Why does ‘Selena: The Series’ not show her tragic death?

Through nine episodes, the series depicts her early life. The Netflix docu-drama explores her journey from singing small gigs to becoming the most successful female Latin artist of all time — and the years of hard work and sacrifice the Quintanilla family navigated together.

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The ninth episode — Que Creias — ends on a cliffhanger to show her love story with Chris Pérez. Pérez was the guitarist for the Tejano queen's band Selena y Los Dinos and subsequently became her husband. Pérez and Selena dated for several months before eloping in 1992. The Quintanilla family, especially Selena's father, was against their relationship. 

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Their infamous love story has often been cited in popular culture as especially heartwarming and passionate and is always an honorable mention around Valentine's day. Several fans take to social media every year to talk about the endearing couple — how they make you believe in love and how they deserved the world.

‘Selena: The Series’ starts streaming all nine new episodes of Part One on Netflix this December 4, 2020.

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