NEW YORK — Garth Brooks entered Yankee Stadium like a school kid on the playground: He ran laps around the venue and yelled loudly as fans cheered on the country music king, who returned to New York on Friday after 19 years.

The feverish audience proudly sported cowboy hats, waved their American flags and even brought homemade signs as Brooks ran through his hits with passion and excitement.

He also got serious: Early in the show, he addressed, like many celebrities have, the police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and the deadly sniper attack on police officers in Dallas.

“Everybody’s been asking us if there’s going to be some kind of statement about what happened yesterday down in Dallas. We have the same statement (for) what happened in Orlando down in Florida, or what happened over in Paris at a concert – people, we’ve got to love one another. That’s what it’s all about. That’s our only hope,” he told the audience.

The crowd responded by chanting “U.S.A.” and Brooks followed it with “People Loving People” and called the song “the most Garth song we’ll do tonight.” He ended the performance by making a heart symbol with his hands.

Brooks, 54, worked the large stage like a veteran and later was joined by his wife, fellow country star Trisha Yearwood.

– From news service reports