Selena Quintanilla Perez’s Cause of Death: How Did She Die?


Getty Fans of Selena and Latin music wait at the "Selena Vive" tribute concert, April 7, 2005 while holding a poster of her.

Selena Quintanilla Perez (more commonly known simply as Selena) is the subject of a new Netflix series. The popular singer was rocketing into stardom when her life was cut short in a shooting. How did she die? What was her cause of death in March 1995? Here is everything you need to know.

She Was Shot & Killed at the Day’s Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas

Selena was shot in a room at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi after agreeing to meet Yolanda Saldivar there to get financial documents related to the Selena Etc. boutique stores, The New York Times reported. Saldivar had been managing the stores but was fired just weeks before Selena’s shooting after customers complained about not receiving their orders and employees said they suspected that Saldivar had stolen money.

When Selena first met with Saldivar on the day she died, Saldivar told her she had been raped in Mexico and they went to a hospital together. The hospital said the case was outside their jurisdiction. When they got back to the motel, they had a disagreement and Saldivar shot Selena. Saldivar still says today that she accidentally shot Selena, but she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Selena managed to run to the Days Inn lobby after she was shot, then-assistant police chief Ken Bung said. About an hour later she was declared dead at Memorial Medical Center in Corpus Christi, The New York Times reported.

Norma Martinez, a house cleaner at Days Inn, testified that after Selena was shot, she ran out of the motel room and Martinez could see Saldivar still pointing a gun at her. She said Saldivar called Selena a “bi***”. Martinez then said a police officer ran after Saldivar, who had gotten into her red truck and had a gun pointed at her head.

A Paramedic Said He Couldn’t Find a Steady Pulse When He Arrived on the Scene

Richard Fredrickson, a paramedic who responded to the scene, testified that when he got there, Selena was lying on her stomach in front of the counter at the Days Inn lobby. She was wearing a green jogging suit and covered in blood. He said they immediately turned her over and began to administer aid.

Fredrickson said that she had bullet hole in the upper part of her right chest and they put gauze over the hole, which was no longer bleeding. He said they couldn’t find a steady pulse, and her muscles were twitching. He said they also couldn’t detect any breathing. They loaded her onto an ambulance, he said, and got to Memorial Medical Center about four minutes later. A cardiac monitor showed a rate of 20 when a normal rate is 80, he testified. He said they placed an IV in her veins, but the veins had collapsed. They also tried to put an IV in her carotid artery, but that was also collapsed. He said that once they arrived at the hospital, he got out of the way as a team tried to revive her unsuccessfully.

Dr. Louis Elkins, a cardiac surgeon, testified that by the time he was able to try to work on her at the Memorial Medical Center, her brain wasn’t functioning and she was already clinically brain dead, AP reportedHe said in court testimony that “most of the blood she had in her body, she had lost.” When he arrived at the hospital, her heart was “blue and empty of blood.”

The Medical Examiner Ruled Her Death a Homicide, Not an Accident

Lloyd White, the Nueces County medical examiner, ruled that the death was a homicide and not an accident, AP reported. This in part led to Saldivar’s conviction, despite her attorney’s assertion that she had accidentally shot Selena.

White testified: “I’m quite certain the gun was intentionally fired. What the person intended to do by that is not my job.”

Edward McKinstry, a Corpus Christi police firearms examiner, said the gun would not accidentally shoot if dropped, but the trigger needed to be deliberately pulled due to safety features.

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