The 21-year-old refinery worker had friends of many backgrounds, was hoping to buy his own house and even had offered to loan his mother money so she could get an advanced degree.
His future looked promising, but Gilbert was shot to death late Monday moments after leaving some friends he had been hanging out with, police said.
The shooting happened about 11:25 p.m. in the 2500 block of East 27th Street, west of Fruitvale Avenue in the lower Dimond district.
Gilbert, who lived in another part of East Oakland and had been given the nickname "Opie" many years ago, had just left his friends, who heard gunfire and found him wounded behind a nearby fence.
Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene at 11:35 p.m.
Sgt. Derwin Longmire said he has found no motive for the killing and no arrests have been made. Speaking about his son Tuesday afternoon from the house they shared, his father, Stephen Gilbert, 65, sometimes broke down in tears as his emotions ran from anger to grief.
The retired BART technician said he thought his son might have been the victim of an attempted robbery, but whatever the reason, it makes no difference to him.
"There is nothing I can do about it. He was my son, my baby. I want my son back, I don't want anything else."
He said his son had a "few missteps" in his life but he will always remember his younger child another son is 25 as "just a sweet kid. He was funny, he was irreverent, he had a great sense of humor. He was considerate of people; people just loved him."
His son had many friends from different races who were as welcome in their home as he was in theirs. "He liked everyone," his father said.
Gilbert said his son grew up in Oakland but graduated from Berkeley High School in 2003, having gone there because his mother, Katherine a respiratory therapist from whom Stephen Gilbert is separated lived there.
For the last 11/2 years, Daniel Gilbert had worked at the Chevron research facility in Richmond where fuels and engines are tested. His father last saw him alive about 1:30 p.m. Monday when he left for work.
"He loved cars. He was always rebuilding engines and swapping cars," his father said. "He was a very responsible, smart kid."
Stephen Gilbert's anger flared a few times as he talked about what he sees as a nationwide culture of violence and a lack of opportunity for young people, which he believes are the roots of crime.
"We don't spend enough money on education for our kids," he said. "They're exposed to so much violence, and for a lot of Oakland kids there are no opportunities.
"Danny had opportunities, but other kids have none."
Now he has to deal with the devastation left in the wake of his son's death while planning his funeral. But no matter what he does, one thing will never change for him.
"My baby is gone."
The killing was Oakland's 27th homicide of the year and the fourth since Saturday. None of the killings is related, police said.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland offer up to $10,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the killer. Anyone with information can call police at (510) 238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at (510) 238-6946.