Jamie Larson was arrested at the scene of the attack.
Auburn police first picked up Larson outside a Fred Meyer store. Management told them he seemed drunk and wouldn't leave, even after he fell into bushes in the parking lot.
Officers called a cab, and the driver agreed to take Larson to his home in Federal Way. While they were driving, Larson made "racial comments" to the driver, according to court documents.
Things took a turn for the worse when the driver reached Larson's home. The victim said Larson "ripped part of his beard off his face" and then "punched him in the face and body repeatedly," according to the documents. Witnesses called the attack "savage."
Larson was initially charged in King County Superior Court with malicious harassment, but that charge was dropped on Monday after it became clear that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle had taken the case. King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe notes that the federal charge carries a longer possible sentence - up to 10 years in prison.
The federal indictment was unsealed Tuesday. Larson was scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court later in the day.