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Thousands of Grieving Fans Pass Selena’s Coffin

April 2, 1995

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ Thousands of grieving fans filed slowly past the closed coffin of Tejano music queen Selena on Sunday, two days after she was shot to death.

Mourners began lining up before dawn, waiting for the visitation to begin at 9 a.m. By the afternoon, well over 10,000 had passed by the coffin, which rested on a stage amid two dozen arrangements of white roses at the city’s Bayfront Plaza Convention Center.

Some fans crossed themselves, others shook their heads. Many wept. Two women sobbed so hysterically they had to be taken out in wheelchairs.

``She never turned anyone away. She always had time for everyone,″ fan Sylvia Rodriguez said of Selena.

Selena Quintanilla Perez was killed Friday at a motel where she had gone to fire the founder of her fan club, who also ran a San Antonio boutique for her, police said.

The suspect, Yolanda Saldivar, was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail on a murder charge.

The 23-year-old Grammy-winner was an idol to young Hispanic women, a Mexican-American version of Madonna. But the bereaved passing her coffin Sunday ranged from young children to the elderly.

``I hope that this generation will follow her steps,″ said 66-year-old Efrain Guerrero, who lives near the middle-class Molina neighborhood where Selena grew up and lived.

``She did a lot of work for this community. She would talk about the necessity of education. She talked against drugs,″ he said. ``She was a lady all the way.″

Fans said they admired Selena because she broke ground in Tejano music: a mix of Mexican ranchera and German polka with pop, country and Caribbean influences.

Her followers praised her for serving as a role model for children. One neighbor said Selena invited neighborhood kids into her home and fed them.

``She was a great inspiration to young children, and that’s who I feel most sad for,″ Lilia Pinon-Ortiz said. ``She did a lot for the Hispanic community. She did a lot for our culture.″

While many fans waited in line, others posed for group photos in front of the sign at the Days Inn motel where Selena was killed.

The motel sign read: ``We’ll miss you Selena.″

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